Lakeside Gummers How, 20/06/09

Yesterday I went to return the Lakeside Gummers How trophy. I’d be sorry to see it go. This had been my last race before an enforced 12 month lay-off with pains down my back and left leg which had meant that walking could be difficult. Regular running was out of the question.

Three MRI scans revealed not a great deal, and much of my treatment was to no avail. Stretching techniques recommend for sciatic pains made no difference. The symptoms persisted, and just 3 weeks ago I still struggled to amble for 3 miles around Edale. The 21 mile Edale Skyline fell race two years ago seemed a lifetime ago.

There are many factors I’m sure, but for some reason about a week ago I was conscious of feeling a slight improvement when my only reaction to an attempted run was sore calves, the injury being a lot less painful than usual. I had planned to come and watch the Two Lads fell race last Thursday, but decided instead to have a go, and jog at the back of the field. Although I had lost considerable fitness I felt comfortable within my revised limits and managed to enjoy the ups, and more-so the downs to finished a surprising 18th. My legs were sore but in a good way, with no complaining from my back/leg. Something somewhere seemed to have shifted and loosened off at long last.

Two days later was Gummers How. We’d won the team event last year and I would go up to return the trophy. This event consists of a 3 mile / 900′ run up and down Gummers How with the small matter of a 400 metre row across Windermere before and after the run! Individuals compete first, followed an hour later by a team event over the same course, with 3 to a team sharing the same boat and running together. I had asked Brendan who was in our team this time, knowing he would be keen for Horwich to retain the title again. “We’ll see who turns up” he said, “but bring your kit just in case!”

And so I arrived at the event, but with only Brendan, Darren and myself in attendance, the team was chosen! “But I’m not fit” I protested, lacing up my fell shoes, “I’ve done nothing for a year”. “If you can wave your arms around at Two Lads, you can do this!” was his unsympathetic response. Hmmm, perhaps this was sweet revenge for being roped into all those fell relays regardless of illness and injury! My turn to suffer!

To my surprise I held it together. With a good first row we took the lead over the other 15 teams, which we retained to the finish, which for me could not come soon enough. Hot on our heels was a strong team from Helm Hill. For Darren this effort was on the back of the individual race in which he’d come second to none other than Ian Holmes, a regular winner at this event.

Thanks to Pete and Jane Bland who travelled up for support, they certainly seemed to enjoy it. We all got together for a hearty pub meal afterwards. I had pheasant for the first time which was very nice indeed, and fortunately managed to avoid breaking my teeth on some lead shot.

I was delighted to bring the trophy back home again and I look forward to continuing with a rather more sensible rehabilitation programme after the madness of the last couple of days.

Chris Heys