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Race Reporting: Windgather Fell Race 2010

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Longshaw Report pic

By Dot Kesterton

Windgather, in the Goyt Valley above Buxton provided a spectacular setting for the last of the seven of the Accelerate Gritstone series of fell runs for 2010.

Described as 13.5 miles, rising to 559m I hesitated for a minute or two before thinking I’d give it a go. It was a good decision. Sunday 10th October dawned warm and sunny. Temperatures of up to 18 degrees were forecast so I knew I would enjoy the race even if I had to walk a bit.

I’d checked out the route a week earlier, only getting lost a couple of times before ending up thigh deep in the marshes of Goyt Moss, nearly losing a shoe. Undaunted I trotted in to register as a runner on a beautiful autumn morning and looked at my opposition. As usual lots of wiry middle aged men, fewer athletic looking women and then the shambling would-be hopefuls like me. I set myself a target of completing the race in under three hours which would keep me inside the ‘Fastest of the Slow’ contingent.

The route rises from Buxton to Windgather Edge via reservoirs Errwood and Fernilee. A long steady climb along the ridge to Pym Chair and then to Shining Tor at about 9 miles gave fabulous views across to Macclesfield and Manchester beyond. The Cat and Fiddle, England’s highest pub stood alone across to the west. The steep descent back to the town, littered with boulders and loose stone from the nearby quarry was broken by the final sting in the tail as Berry Clough rose again. Very tired by now I just had to walk it, along with others who hobbled and plodded alongside. The last mile though is downhill so I dug for all my reserves and pelted off down the hillside and on to the finish.

First runner in was Dave Taylor in 1hr 39.57. The first woman, Emma Wilson, set a course record with 1.40.07. The first FV 50, Katherine Harvey ran it in 2.13.30. I came in as 4th fastest FV 50 after Julie Gardner and Pat Goodall, achieving my goal by coming in at 2. 35.30. I was elated. There were 243 runners who completed the course, including 10 FV 50’s.

So, what do you gain by doing gruelling fell runs? Cuts, bruises, whopping blisters, nausea and a huge sense of achievement. I’ll be back for more next year…

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