Accelerate Gritstone Series

Race Reporting: Hucklow 2011

Nic Barber

Report By Nic Barber, Fell Runner and Orienteer…

Great Hucklow Fell Race is one of the few races (along with Burbage Skyline) in which I have competed every year since I took up this fell-running lark nearly 4 years ago. A different race route to my first attempt, a few friends have called this their favourite Peaks Fell Race as it is fast, provides a wide range of terrain and some fantastic flapjack at the end! After a ‘DNS’ at Edale (beer-induced I’m afraid!) I was hoping a descent run today might fire me up the Gritstone series standings.

The Race Organiser (who’s name escapes me) always gives an entertaining preamble with one of the best voices in peak district racing and shortly we’re off over the first field. Put in a bit of pace to get through the narrowing gaps, don’t take the line across the field which throws you into a hole – damn, forgot to scout this bit out before the off, schoolboy! Down onto the track and I’m very cautious about setting off to fast after a stinking cold earlier in the week, so it’s time to slow down a bit and cruise across the fields before trying to pick people off heading up Durham Edge. A slight wait for the style before struggling up the unrelenting edge. Ah, my plan of picking people off up here isn’t really working. Thankfully there’s a bit of shade at the top and I look down to the style and see a massive queue of very patient humanity waiting to get across – I remember those days of having to wait, frustrating but at least you can catch your breath!

On the way to the Trig people are passing me and I can’t keep with them when I normally would. I take a few people on the downhill moor section to the small reser, but they (and more!) all come motoring past on the drag to the top of Abney Moor. Quads are aching and I’m not feeling on top form but I’ve got to keep on plugging away. Down off the moor and onto the road – take a bit of water to try and sort my throat out. Diving off the road I know what’s coming – the undulating purgatory of the Bretton Clough sun-trap. Can’t wait… The bloke in front takes a tumble off the wooded track and I pass him, but can’t pull away with my usual surge as I mince down the hill into the clough proper. Into the clough which, despite being just over a km long, seems to go on for hours! Gentle ups where you feel you have to push on but can’t, gentle downs where you should fly but for some reason it just isn’t happening! Two more go past before we stagger up and out of the clough. Across the fields, another goes past. Just the two short, sharp climbs left. Sod it, time to stop feeling sorry for myself and man up. A quick moan to Stu about how rubbish I feel before passing 2 guys in front of me – bad timing for my gripe I feel! Onto the road and I know it’s 800m to the finish and downhill time – my forte, you could say. However it still takes longer than normal to claw back the 2 ahead of me on the rough track, eventually getting them on the section of road courtesy of some inside-corner manoeuvres Lewis Hamilton would be proud of!

I ease into the finish in 18th place, 50.20 being about 7 minutes behind the (perpetual) winner Stuart Bond, a much bigger gap than at Castleton and Burbage unfortunately! I take solace that I at least managed to beat last year’s time before partaking in the excellent flapjack and bananas whilst wondering if I’ll ever have a good run at this race before heading home to watch Cav on the Champs Elysees.

Many thanks to the RO and the (many) marshals – with its many twists and turns this race is much more marshal-intensive than most! 217 people ran on a day that, although not overly scorchio, did result in me getting some pink shoulders – when will I learn to cream up!

Next up – Longshaw and Windgather. I need both to get 5 counters, but with doubts as to where I’ll be living by then who knows if I’ll be turning up – I hope so!

The start of the 2011 Great Hucklow Fell Race. 217 starters was a record entry for the event…

Nic Barber races downhill during the Great Hucklow Fell Race, finishing 18th overall.

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