Then a friend suggested something unnecessary and since it also involved the use of an app, I was a little uninspired. But I did not want to appear unenthusiastic so I played along with her plan to do a 'virtual fell race'. The idea was to run, yes really run on real legs, a certain route, at any time during a set three week period and send in a GPS trace. All the competitors would run the same course, just not at the same time. Like a real fell race all the 'checkpoints' should be visited but only the marshals in the ether would be keeping watch. Oddly big-brother-ish to a technophobe but I kept an open mind. The route was only five miles over four fell summits. There was nothing to lose. I would enjoy the run I nothing else.
It was a hot morning so I put on my vest, the only cool vest I own, the one I race in. I have stood on that same Stair road many times, with a number on my chest, ready to start. I began to remember previous races. I pressed the gadget button, and a few minutes later the steep fellside pressed some buttons inside me. It began to switch me on.
Even though there was no one to chase I found myself running almost as if I meant it. I wasn't flat out but I was trying. The more I tried the more I remembered. I remembered what vitality is. I remembered what reality is. I remembered why and how it is that I'm alive at all. It was glorious – every footstep, every lungful of inhaled morning air, every heartbeat. The most essential work I have done for months.
The morning mist
hangs grey muggy cloths
over Newland’s much-loved tops
Causey’s prow lurks, unseen in fog.
Its early yet but summer heat
as is remembrance
as is hope
as are my let-loose legs
while heart and lungs
willingly enslave themselves
to the service of my body rising
spirit rising, bourne on
rolling clouds up Rolling End
twists and turns and bends
of narrow slit
through calf high scratchy heather,
triumph standing on the prow
breathing blue sky at checkpoint heaven.
Soft slither dark mud snake winds down
to stumbly rocks, to bog
a push of up then
a ride on outstretched running strides
pop-up Stile End
like Jack out of his box.
Down on bracken-brushed thighs
to Stoneybeck on picked-up feet.
I want to laugh or cry or shout,
some centre between my chest and guts
“Do you remember this?
This is Joy.”