Barrowburn Blast Results

Awesome performance by all the participants of the Barrowburn Blast off road duathlon.  Here are some results for you:

1st Woman: Gemma Thompson

2nd Woman: Aimee Blay

1st Male: Peter Mason

2nd Male: Stewart McConnell

3rd Male: Andrew McClure

1st 50+ Male: Andrew McClure (but the trophy went to Iain Bell as Andrew is not greedy!)

# First Last Run 1 Bike Bike Split Run 2 Run Split Gender Age
1 Paul Appleby 00:24:32 02:00:08 01:35:36 02:55:22 00:55:14 Male 54
2 Iain Bell 00:25:52 01:55:10 01:29:18 02:53:30 00:58:20 Male 52
3 Aimee Blay 00:35:52 03:14:47 02:38:55 04:49:41 01:34:54 Female 21
4 Clare Briggs x x x x x Female 39
5 Harry Coates x x x x x Male 28
6 John Crinson 00:28:23 02:13:42 01:45:19 03:19:44 01:06:02 Male 33
7 Sam Dainty x x x x x Female 34
8 Stephen Dennett 00:25:42 02:03:56 01:38:14 03:01:33 00:57:37 Male 47
9 Asa Fitzgerald x x x x x Male 34
10 Douglas Fitzgerald x x x x x Male 29
11 Nicholas Gilbert 00:35:10 02:49:13 02:14:03 04:24:00 01:34:47 Male 44
12 Phil Green 00:25:21 02:08:10 01:42:49 03:01:25 00:53:15 Male 47
13 Kristian Grundy x x x x x Male 41
14 Richard Hall 00:34:10 02:59:50 02:25:40 - - Male 37
15 Paul Hamilton x x x x x Male 44
16 Paul Hodgson 00:34:59 02:38:04 02:03:05 03:51:15 01:13:11 Male 34
17 Peter Mason 00:25:04 01:54:50 01:29:46 02:45:08 00:50:18 Male 45
18 Brian Matthewman x x x x x Male 45
19 Zoe Matthewman x x x x x Female 37
20 Andrew Mcclure 00:25:44 01:51:00 01:25:16 02:48:36 00:57:36 Male 50
21 Stewart Mcconnell 00:24:18 01:54:45 01:30:27 02:45:36 00:50:51 Male 40
22 Ross Murray 00:28:58 02:29:31 02:00:33 03:47:26 01:17:55 Male 33
23 Stuart Purdy 00:43:00 03:13:41 02:30:41 - x Male 33
24 Mark Rutherford 00:40:39 03:13:39 02:33:00 04:56:13 01:42:34 Male 44
25 Lynn Stephenson x x x x x Female 30
26 Gemma Thompson 00:34:56 03:03:25 02:28:29 04:25:17 01:21:52 Female 31
27 Les Turnbull 00:26:04 02:00:12 01:34:08 03:02:58 01:02:46 Male 60
28 Allon Welsh 00:27:29 02:07:54 01:40:25 03:09:58 01:02:04 Male 51

Barrowburn Blast Duathlon – What To Expect

There’s a small group of people who love both running and mountain biking combined into gruelling events called off road duathlons.  This group will be coming along on Sunday to sample the delights of the hills in and around Barrowburn so I thought it was about time I wrote a little article on what to expect on this route.

Registration will be our simple process of signing your name and getting your number just like always.  The choice is yours after this whether you want to eat a load of cake in the cafe before you run but I wouldn’t recommend it.  If you’re sick the sheep will eat it anyway!

The first run is the easiest leg of the day to get your body into the way of things.  Heading out along the road will give your body a chance to go from a sedate way of life to a raised heart rate before it has to bump against the limiter.  Turning right at Slymefoot you’ll almost immediately be sent upwards next to a fence line.  This is a nice short but steep start to proceedings and gives you a flavour of the terrain here about.  Once you top out you’ll connect up with the main route back to the cafe to begin your first transition.

Hop onto that bike of yours and begin the second leg.  You head back up the way you’ve just ran down but this time you’re heading straight up north until you hit the fire road.  Zoom down the fire road to reach Trows and then chug up the mighty climb up to Windy Gyle.  There’s no hiding from it, this climb is a beast and the last 200 metres are just do-able if you’re totally committed.  Once you reach the top you might want to take 5 to recover but why not just do that when you zoom off to the left.  Look out for little drops and muddy sections, seeing well ahead is the name of the game.  You’ll soon work your way over to The Street to hook a left and head south all the way back to the cafe.  Well done, two down and one to go.

Run 2 is the one that’s going to hurt.  You would have had a nice long ride down from the high border so you’re legs will be OK.  Now you will push hard on the hill after The Deer Hut just to make it up to the next plateau.  You won’t hit the woods that head across to Middle Hill, instead you make an about turn and face the final nemesis of the day, Shillhope Law.  A few undulations to get by before you hit the foot of the final climb.  As you make the steep ascent you can look back and see just how high you are with the cafe looking small in the valley below.  At the top you now know that the tough bits are over and take a 45 degree right turn past the trig point and head on the steep track down to Bygate.  Being sure footed its helpful here and then at the bottom you need to cross the Coquet river and then run alongside the road all the way back to the cafe and the finish.

Looks easy on paper doesn’t it?  Very soon it’s your turn to have a crack at it.  See you soon.


Behemoth Update – 5 Days To Go

The countdown to the October events is well and truly on so I thought it was time to run over a few things. Don’t forget to check over your bike before the Behemoth (and Barrowburn Blast). Have a Google for “British Cycling M check” if you want to see a thorough bike check.

If you need work then now’s the time to do it or get a shop to do it. I can recommend any of Team Cycles​, CJ Performance Cycles​ or Coquet Cycles​ if you’re in the North East. I’m sure there are plenty of others out there that can help also. Team Cycles (Team Valley area) have never let me down yet and I’m getting my slightly battered bike serviced and fixed there tomorrow ready for a big few days of course marking.

In other updates, the medals arrive tomorrow morning and the t-shirts on Friday. Yippee! Tomorrow afternoon will see large amounts of food purchased to go with the home cooked goodness. The volunteers are confirmed for the day and it would be very pleasing if you find the time to thank them for their efforts.

We’ve got the Mountain Rescue emergency controller numbers and the medic has confirmed their attendance. There will be first aiders at checkpoint 1 and checkpoint 2 as well as the start/finish area. In addition to this there is myself who will be mobile with the medic moving from point to point around the course. One of the sweeps will be able to help out with minor cuts and scrapes if needed. Lastly on accidents – try and look after each other out there. If someone is hurt and you can help then please try and do so.

Kit is gathered on Thursday night and course layout begins on Friday. Every effort is made to make the route as easy as possible to follow. I’ve visited as many farmers as I can think of and they’re all expecting the signs to be in place. The only concern, as locals will tell you, is the signs being knocked over by livestock. Mark the route on your map or have a backup copy printed off just in case. A few of the farmers are going out on the day to check the signs on the morning of the event so many thanks to them for that.

If you’re camping then give some thought on what you’re bringing. I’ve mentioned this before but the campsite is just a field and not a commercial campsite. The facilities of the village hall will be available but try to think of self sufficiency. At night it can be very dark so a headtorch or lamp would be very useful. The cafe will be open in the morning for the event but bring some extra food just in case. And don’t forget there is a social evening/disco the night before and all are welcome – bring your own food and drink as there is no licence to sell drinks in the village hall.

News on mechanicals. Should you suffer a mechanical issue you do have some options. The first line of defence has always got to be yourself so take some basic kit as advised. The backup is that Team Cycles are supplying some kit to the sweep riders which can be purchased on the day. In addition to this Coquet Cycles are bring a mobile workshop which will be found at the start, Barrowburn cafe and then the finish. Adam of Coquet Cycles is an independent small business and there to provide a valuable service should you need it.

How to deal with the riding on the day. Go at your own pace. Don’t get caught up in the rush of people setting off on the first two mile climb out of Ingram. If you push harder than you usually do at the start then chances are you’ll burn out later on. This is not a race and the idea is to complete rather than compete.

If you have any queries or questions then now is the time to be asking. Don’t worry if you think it is trivial, just get in touch. Email, text, phone – whatever you want. If I’m not on the side of a hill somewhere I’ll try and answer it as soon as possible. If you are struggling to get hold of me then why not stick something on Facebook and I’m sure one of the other riders will be able to help.


Easing The Pain

I’ve decided to take pity on you duathlon people and extend the final run.  How can a longer run make it easier you may ask?  Well, the original short route took a dramatically steep route to the top of Shillhope Law and was bordering on cruel so I’ve extended the climb and downgraded the climb from outrageous to phenomenally hard – a small easing of the pain scale, we’re all heart.

Now for the final run you will track up the valley as far as the woods about Fairhaugh and then turn back on yourself to start the journey up to the summit of Shillhope Law.  It’s big and it’s brutal and what a final ascent of the day for you to enjoy.  Following on from this the descent back down is steep, tricky and oh so very fast.  You’ll be making a bee-line for the finish line whilst trying not to go surfing face first down the side of the hill.

Now that’s the route adjusted and finalised ready for action.  As advertised it’s packed with steep, intense climbs and for both running and riding and even includes the now infamous Trows to Windy Gyle climb in the riding section – even GB mountain bike endurance rider Rich Rothwell thought this was tough and possibly one of the best climbs he’s ever done.

Now what’s stopping you?  Find out more here.


Duathlon New Route

We’re really looking forward to the Barrowburn Blast off road duathlon event.  We’ve assessed the options and decided to make the ride section even better.  Originally we had a route that took you off up to Uswayford Forest and round the forest track in there but then we had a rethink.  Spending a lot of time on forest track is just to easy!  The new route sees you take on a climb that is now infamous with the people who took on the Clennell Colossus mountain bike event – Trows to Windy Gyle!

This tough climb is one of the best you can get in the Cheviots with sections that are so steep and technical they are JUST ridable by the committed competitor.  Following the summit you will then be treated to one of the best long descents as you make your way across to The Street and back to the main road.  The Street is renowned for a wide variation of riding styles including high speed descents, lumps and bumps, single track, rolling burrows and much more.

off road duathlon

Let’s just say you make it back to Barrowburn and transition into the final run, things get even harder!  Shillhope Law looms large above Barrowburn Tea Room and just looking at it is enough to put some people off.  You’ll be running to the top and then dropping straight off the side back to the finish.  Being sure of foot and committed is a pre-requisite.  In fact, being a mountain goat would be particularly useful.

So then, the Barowburn Blast off road duathlon, get ready for an intense experience!


The Three R’s

If you’ve signed up for one of our events then chances are you are well into your training regime.  As the mantra goes, increase training slowly but train regularly.  That’s sound advice but also don’t forget to let your body recover for sessions once you start pumping up the pressure.  Rest, recovery and refuelling are essential to maintain performance because the effect of over training can be detrimental to your overall output and can often result a reversal of previous gains.

Look at the training sessions you are undertaking for the week or month and deliberately plan in some rest days.  These are vital to get your muscles resupplied and repair and short term damage.  Try and mix in some stretching and plan to take in not only carb loaded food and drink but also protein to help with repair and muscle generation.  Remember that recovery and repair of muscles actually results in stronger muscles as they adapt to the load they have been placed under.

A a general rule people say take a minimum of 1 day off a week, 1 week off a month and 1 month of a year.  I’ll confess that my rest periods are way more often than this and I seem to score heavily in the refuelling department due to a rampant appetite!  If you are under-active then rest doesn’t have to be a complete halt on all activities, it can mean just taking a less strenuous workout and keeping your body ticking over.

Whatever your training regime, I hope it is going well and you’re getting fitter.


Who Is It For? the Barrowburn Blast Off Road Duathlon

Here at High Fell Events we love to think of events that revolve around off road sports, in particular mountain biking at trail running. Very soon the clennell colossus of road sportive will be here and hundreds of people will take to the hills to test themselves over 47 miles. Also, in August we have the Clennell Trail Marathon/10 Mile Run where straight leg power on the fells will be your test.

So why not do an off road duathlon? Combining our favourite activities seemed logical and since our team have done quite a few off road duathlons themselves we think the landscape of the remote Cheviot hills is a perfect place to have one.

So who is this event aimed at? As with all our events we want to see participation at all levels. We’ll be disappointed if the top people don’t get something out of it but we’d be more disappointed if those new to the sport are put off. Organised events can be intimidating to those who’ve never done them before and we’re trying to be as open, friendly and inclusive as possible.

If someone coems along and tries it but doesn’t like it then no worries, our aim is to open this sport and environment up for you to at least have a go and make a judgement. Saying that, we’re pretty confident that you’ll be impressed with the test on offer and the setting it takes place in. Completing this will be satisfying and a real achievement.

In terms of fitness we would always advise that you do some training before hand. The more your body is accustomed to duress and physical demands then the more easily it will cope with the course. We would class ourselves as being OK to good in terms of fitness and we still walk up the steep hills! Our plan is always to walk where needed and then try and run the flats and downs and it always seems to work out alright.

For people who are unsure about any of our events we do offer to take them out prior to the day so you can see for yourself just what you are signing up for. It’s a unique place with minimal urban influence, big views and steep gradients. If you would like us to do this with you then just get in touch with either or and we can get something worked out.

One other thing to mention is that there is free camping on offer the night before. This is just a farmers field but should you stay on the Saturday you can easily walk round the route and see for yourself what you are taking on. Walking the entire route can be done a few hours but I’d recommend skipping the second running leg as it will drain you of precious reserves that you will need the following day.

Hopefully this has given you an idea about what you’re taking on and eased any fears about whether you are up to it or not. The only way you can find out is by turning up and giving it a go and we’re sure you will leave with positive vibes.


Cheviot Ride – Slippery When Wet

The clocks decided to change in the morning and when my alarm went off I thought there was something strange going on.  Nevertheless it was time to jump out of bed whilst it was still dark and get some good food down myself ready for a day of cycling.  The kit was already sorted but as the natural yoghurt with honey was slipping down I couldn’t help but notice the rain hitting the window outside.  Oh well.  The drive up went quickly and the rain alternated between heavy and light all the way to the Barrowburn Tea Room meeting point.  Clouds hung low in the sky and the drizzle was still falling as I switched clothes ready for action.

It was here greetings were made with Darren Neale and Paul Thoburn who had come across from Bedlington for a bit of Cheviot MTB action.  Darren has been up before but it was now that I learnt that Paul is a dedicated road cyclist and this would be his first ever trip off road.  Already the route I had in my head was being altered with possible alternatives.  We headed north from Deer Hut towards Middle Hill which immediately presents you with an almighty steep hill which is hard enough in the dry but when you are in the wet it’s a right bummer.  This very same hill is the second last serious climb on the Clennell Colossus off road sportive and also gets used in the Barrowburn Blast off road duathlon but luckily they get to fly down it.

With hearts trying to escape through our chests we had made it to the top of this climb and headed straight over the next smaller hill and down into the Usway Burn.  There’s a tricky little section where you have to go down the side of The Middle and in conditions like today it’s best to veer off the muddy track and stick to the longer grass on either side if you want to maintain solid traction.  Luckily we all made it through and for a while the terrain would switch to more compact roads and forest tracks as we headed up north of Uswayford into the forest and towards Davidsons Linn.

This popular camping spot has a lovely approach through the trees and Darren went first purely just to flick as much mud up as possible.  Winding down to the bridge we were greeted by a deer who took one smell of the air and thought we all smelled too badly before disappearing off into the thick trees.  At the point we had joined Salters Road which about ten years ago was a terribly boggy and hard going path fit only for masochists and people with a mud fetish.  Nowadays it’s a delightfully wide and rolling trail where bikes can make good progress once they have climbed out of the valley.  The track heading west from here is a real highlight.

We did a loop round the forest tracks which were a joy because every once and a while a distant vista would present itself.  Being so close to the border we were almost riding in the shadow of Cairn Hill and the Cheviot but with the cloud hanging over their summits they managed to keep their secrets for another day.  Once we had completed the loop we joined Salters Road but this time heading east and climbed out to meet Clennell Street.  Darren’s 29er combined with his impressive leg strength made short work of the steep climb but then he managed to get his feet wet as he hit the bog at the top.  It’s short, steep and slippery stuff like this where Paul and I were having to think and act quickly to get our feet out of spds in a hurry.  There is real merit to using flats when your faced with slippery surfaces. ;-)

Bursting out into the open fell we suddenly got a sense of just how high we were.  Looking north up the hill about 300m was the border with Scotland and to the left of that was Windy Gyle.  On another day we would have gone to the summit but not today.  Instead we rode, slipped and jumped our way down Hazely Burn whilst notching up a fair bit of speed.  This section down to Usway Burn is one of my favourites in the Cheviots and to me defines what the places is about; vast open spaces with such a huge variety of riding mixed up with some epic views.  Does it get any better?

Once we hit the compact road it was a right turn and after a short climb past Murder Cleugh a long downhill followed that took us to Trows, past the picturesque Rowhope farm and eventually linking up with the main road at Slymefoot and back to Barrowburn for coffee and food.  A great days riding made that little bit harder by the conditions.  Pleasingly we all came back unscathed and with smiles on our faces.  Where will we go exploring next?


Cyclo Cross Friendly

A few weeks ago we had a lively debate with a man in a pub, well cafe, about the merits and drawbacks of both mountain bikes versus cyclo cross bikes.  John and I have relatively small experience of CX events but we can appreciate the madness of it and the good humour of people who get stuck in and give it a go.  It also certainly seems to be a rapidly expanding sport along with other types of cycling.  The debate we had centred around whether a CX bike would be a suitable choice for the Clennell Colossus off road sportive.  Our natural reaction was very protectionist towards mountain biking and assumed that off road was our natural domain.  However, countered the CX man, hard packed off road will be covered quicker by a CX bike.

Back and forth we went and it is amazing when you sit and think about it that we’ve probably all seen CX riders in action at some point.  I did the Kielder Off Road Duathlon last year and remember a guy on a CX bike and no matter how hard I tried I could not catch him on the forest tracks but then he held everyone up on the descents.  It was almost worth clipping that rear wheel to get him out the way.  Almost.  Then you’d hit the bottom with brakes burning and off he’d go into the distance once more.

To prove the point our esteemed friend got out on his CX and rode the majority of the Clennell Colossus route while we were on our mountain bikes and indeed he coped with all areas just as well as us which was most disheartening for our off road pride!  I could imagine if there was wet weather conditions that the high areas might be a challenge but the vast bulk of tracks are just fine.  So if you have a CX bike and you want a long distance off road challenge you are more than welcome to come and have a go here.  We have duly eaten humble pie and you may even find us on the saddle of one ourselves very soon.

The Barrowburn Blast off road duathlon would also be a very fine choice for a CX bike and the tracks have been chosen careful to cater for all types of bikes.


The Barrowburn Blast! – An Off Road Duathlon

You will be delighted to hear that the High Fell Events team have been beavering away on new events for this year and next.  The first of these to be revealed is The Barrowburn Blast, an off road duathlon that doesn’t major on distance but certainly does for climbing.  Two relatively short runs combined with some exciting cross country mountain biking makes for the perfect high intensity event.  As with everything else we do there is an open and relaxed approach with the event being open to newbies and veterans alike, all we want you to do is enjoy yourself.

Camping will be available as Ian the farmer at Barrowburn will clear a field of livestock and you’re welcome to come and stay Saturday and/or Sunday if you wish.  There is running water and a toilet but essentially this is just a field and you need to be as self sufficient as possible.  the event location is the Barrowburn Tea Room which can keep you and your friends/family fueled with a range of good food and drinks.

The course will be well sign posted so no need for navigational skills, although we would always advocate a backup map.  Safety stewards will be on hand to look after bikes even though the location is in the middle of absolutely nowhere!

Set in one of the most remote and wild parts of England you will get your body tested to the full.  The first run starts off on a nice flat road but quickly heads up a sharp hill before looping back home.  Hop on the bike to tackle some top quality trails that include a range of terrain and skills including a very fast downhill not far from the last transition.  The last run we have decided to call “the big one” even though it’s only about 2.5 miles; the climbing involved is pretty severe and takes in the biggest hill in the immediate vicinity.

A portion of every entry will be donated to the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team and a medal and t-shirt will be given to each person who enters.  Entries open soon, we’re just waiting on the final boxes to be ticked.

For more info please click here.