Race Reporting: Castleton Fell Race 2009
By Mark Smalley
Castleton Fell Race, the second part of the Accelerate Gritstone Series and about an hour and a half before the race is due to start the heavens opened and unleashed a downpour that would have made even the hardy fell runner possibly think twice about turning up for the Castleton event. Yet there was a surprisingly good turnout, with the weather calming down just in time for the start and the first climb up Loose Hill. As we left the road to head onto the hill, there was still a little stream trickling its way down making footing slippery. Once again I got caught behind the pack, and again (as at Burbage) this meant that I had some energy saved for the end. Again fitness going up the climbs let me down, reducing me to walking and losing valuable places and time, yet some of this was made up on the flat and downhill towards Hollins Cross. Another steady climb for Mam Tor came next and once again back to walking and being overtaken by all those who I passed on the flat.
Once the race leaders passed me I felt a ray of hope that I would be near the top, yet still had to keep going on and on into the mist that screened the summit from view. Then the top, such a relief to finally be going back downhill and felt happier with my legs, picking up some speed and slipping a little on the wet flagstones. Back to Hollins Cross and the final descent, slipping on the wet ground where I had far too little grip and was going too fast for my liking and finding it difficult to slow down enough to not run into the runners in front! Passing the camera of Stuart Hale, I then set off down a grassy slope for my moment of glory on camera, nearly making it a spectacular “you’ve been framed” moment but saving myself just in time as my shoes took there time in digging into the rain soaked surface.
Happier running, once back on the road, with the rain starting again and the finish in sight a desperate attempt was made to try and catch the runners in front, eventually creating a sprint finish gaining me two places and a spot in the top 100! Afterwards heading over to where the orange juice was kindly provided I drank what seemed to be a never ending supply from the drinks team. Both warm gear and some desperately needed calories was next on my to do list.
Another well organised and fun race, despite the horrible weather just before the race and at the end. It was ‘Bouncing’!