Nine Standards Rigg is a great viewpoint on the Centurian Challenge circuit.

Champing at the bit after his enforced lay-off due to illness, Jon Kinder came up with the idea of challenging some of his mountain biking mates to a race over the 100 mile Centurion course in the Yorkshire Dales. 

The route starts at Ingleton and heads north east to the Ribblehead Viaduct before swinging north west towards Sedbergh and the Howgills.  Then it completes a clockwise loop up hill and down dale taking in Kirkby Stephen, Nine Standards Rigg, Keld, Castle Bolton, Buckden Pike, Starbotton, the lower slopes of Penyghent, Horton-in-Ribblesdale and, as a grand finale, the summit of Ingleborough. 

The proposal crystallised as a three-way challenge between teams of walkers, runners and cyclists.  Steve Leach and Allan Pollock set off from Ingleton late one Friday evening to walk the route self-supported, i.e. carrying most of their needs with them.  Next morning, the running and cycling teams set off more or less together, although the need for a few more tweaks with the spanners meant the bikers set off a few minutes later, and that was the last the runners saw of them until Sunday afternoon. 

The general plan for the runners was that Jon Kinder would run as much as he felt able to, supported alternately by Team A, Andy Swift and Mark Fowell, and Team B, Bill Southgate and Gill Watson.  This plan was largely adhered to until two stages from the end, when Jon, still not fully fit after a heavy cold and beginning to shiver as the rain got heavier, suffered a rare attack of common sense and retired with 85 miles under his belt.  Andy and Bill walked the penultimate leg around Penyghent in deference to Andy’s blisters, and then Mark, as last man standing, took on the Ingleborough massif solo.  Target time 30 hours, actual time 28 hrs 12 mins, result 1 hr 48 mins longer in the pub! 

Meanwhile the runners had overhauled the walkers at the halfway point.  Steve and Allan had succumbed to the allure of a caravan for the night.  By next morning completion of the full route was out of the question, so a short cut was devised which took 20 miles out of the distance and they arrived mid evening, in good time to sample the contents of the Ingleton Youth Hostel’s extensive wine cellar. 

The cycling party (Phil Hyde-Barker, Todd Coxhead, Martin Yeo, Richard Wild and Brett Underhill) had encountered mechanical problems en route, including a major crash which split Martin’s helmet in two and put several holes into some very expensive waterproof clothing.  Pulling into Kirkby Stephen (36 miles) 90 minutes behind the runners, they were forced to abandon the fray, book accommodation for the night and spend the next day on gentler terrain.  Comment from Todd:  the bike team set off prepared for every eventuality. This included carrying 2 sleeping bags, survival bags and a 2-man shelter in case anyone had a debilitating crash on the bleak moors in the middle of a wet night. In the end the most valuable pieces of kit were our credit cards, which paid for a café lunch in Sedbergh, an evening meal in an Indian restaurant (whilst wearing lycra), several drinks in the hotel bar and our luxury B&B complete with 2 course breakfast. Mountain biking at its best!

Thanks to Steve for planning the route, Andy for planning the accommodation and Mark and Allan for the use of their cars.  Pete Adams is grateful for the amount of material gathered for his onerous task of passing on the Whingers Trophy.  JK is grateful to the cyclists for living up to his expectations.  And apologies are due to the Yorkshire Dales National Park authorities for the sudden appearance of so many patches of dead vegetation.  With memories of his kidney failure uppermost in his mind, JK took on board a lot of water, and it had to come out somewhere!

Bill Southgate

Running Club

Rolls-Royce Harriers Running Club

Centurian Challenge 1-3 October 2010

100 miles around the North Yorkshire Dales