Seven of us took part in the Westmorland Trail Race yesterday. There are some rumours circulating that Martin Lofthouse got lost. I’m happy to set the record straight with a write up. Sorry it is a bit long. But then again, so was the wait for Martin to finish.
So Martin told us what was planned:
An eight mile trip round Westmorland,
Of muddy paths and trails uneven,
In the hills ‘round Kirby Stephen.
“Oh yes”, we mumbled, “that sounds fine”,
And all set off in one long line,
Of Brian, Nige, and Martin L,
And promised a pint, I’d gone as well.
With Rachael, Jane, and Emma D,
And Chief Cheerleader Sarah C,
In convoy come from Harrogate,
We’d left at twelve (not to be late).
We slowly gathered near the start,
With Martin eager to depart,
And giddy with excitement heady,
Brian stood with Garmin ready.
We turned our eyes towards the hill,
(the sight of it made some feel ill),
And the hill, it was a grinding climb,
But the race did not allow the time,
For the Nidders, panting now,
With beads of sweat upon the brow,
And sheep shit upon leg and shoe,
To stop and to take in the view.
I speak the truth: the climb was grim,
In the hunt for plateau rim.
Slowly, slowly, up the rocks,
Gasped the team of panting crocks.
(Apologies to the fitter members,
If this poet misremembers,
From his place out near the back,
Worrying about a heart attack).
Will this climbing never stop?
Where, oh, where’s the bloody top?
Will this torture never end?
Is that a skyline round the bend?
Will this anguish ne’er be done?
That bastard Martin calls this fun?!
At last! At last! The top is gained!
And tho’ windy, it’s not rained,
As much or hard as by traditions,
Of the usual fell race conditions.
With us bringing up the back,
Martin ran on in gold and black,
Up hill, down dale, and peak and glen,
With those leading mounting men.
Off he went our Captain bold,
We followed on as we’d been told,
Over rock and fell and muddy ditch
(Those at the back began to bitch),
With climb and drop and zig and zag,
Off Martin ran and did not flag.
I mentioned flags and with reason sound,
For they were placed along the ground,
To keep us runners in the know,
Of our directions and where to go.
But what is this? O sad disaster!
That Martin, our Captain and Master,
Unknown to us, had not heeded,
The flags and markers clearly needed,
To keep him and those of speed,
Out in the front and in the lead.
So turning right (the signs we’d read),
Martin continued straight ahead,
A choice today that surely gauls,
Those athletic know-it-alls.
Down we ran to plashing brook,
Unaware of the route they’d took,
And it never came to mind,
That those up front were now behind.
On we ran, but were shocked to browse,
That our route was blocked by cows.
With hills to right and water left,
How we would we pass the bovine heft?
But concerns were brief and were unfounded,
What happened next left us astounded:
The bullocks turned and then they bounded,
Along the route, runners surrounded.
And they maintained a nifty pace,
It was like they’d joined in the race.
Although likely lethal, it was good fun,
To try a Cumbrian bull run!
‘Though here’s a question on which to ponder,
Of cows and bulls in hillside yonder,
If they run a race, and jog, and lumber,
Where on a bull do you pin the number?
Let’s leave this question philosophic,
And get back to this: our topic.
We left the hill and turned right,
With the next summit now in sight,
And with tired legs and panting chest,
Continued in our hilly quest.
And as our legs began to ache,
The faster runners did overtake,
Us on those final racing miles,
On fields, through gates and over stiles.
Well this was odd and this was queer,
It’s not normal for me to appear,
Up near the front, especially when,
Racing alongside fitter men.
The final descent got quite frenetic,
And I was feeling unduly athletic,
Fancying that I looked quite fine,
As I hit the finish line,
To cheers from Nigel and from Bri.
I looked around but could not spy,
Our Captain. Well he should be here,
So where is he? Oh dear, oh dear.
Emma appeared, followed by Jane,
And made their ways along the lane,
So we ordered cake and had some tea,
To wait for Martin and Rachael P.
When they turned up, we all laughed,
At Martin’s navigation craft,
As he told us he was late,
‘Cos he’d made ten miles from eight.
We thought it great, ‘though he felt it grim,
That we had finished ahead of him,
And that we would not forget the failing,
Of our much-admired Captain Grayling.
And so, with that, our tale is done.
As, in the light of setting sun,
The Nidders facing journeys far,
Got changed and climbed into the car,
And all agreed that there was no doubt:
A cracking run and a grand day out.