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Wolf’s Pit Race Report by Team Accelerate Athlete Will Burton

Wolf’s Pit is known as a tough race, taking in 450m of climbing over its 9.6km duration. Most of this elevation comes in the first climb but the course takes in two other climbs in the second half of the race, the last one particularly short and sharp as you pick your way through the trees back onto the main path. The course concludes with a dash back down the hill, a river crossing (which has been known to claim a few tired runners!) and a final chase across a field to the finish line. It is the first fixture in the Gritstone Series, supported this year by Accelerate and Scott, and after spectating the race a few years ago I decided to give it a go myself.

I was initially quite nervous about the race as I hadn’t done any fell races since 2019. Living in Manchester as a student, most of my training is orientated around faster track and road running. However, in recent months I have been increasing my mileage and travelling over to the peak district every few weeks for long runs in the hills. I also came second at the Wooler Trail half marathon back in November, with other members of Team Accelerate Scott completing the podium. Wooler wasn’t exactly a fell race but gave me the confidence I could race well on the hills and mud.

In terms of gear for the race I ran in the Scott Supertrac RC 2. I tend to do all my off-road running in these shoes and feel they worked well for the most part. However, on reflection I think a more aggressive shoe like the Scott Supertrac Speed RC might have been better for the fast, muddy downhill sections of the race. It was particularly muddy on the day of the race after lots of rain in the week. I think the downhill sections are where I lost some time, but I think more regular training on the fells will make me better at negotiating more tricky terrain. Hopefully it will be a lot drier for the summer races too, but you never know!

Overall, the race went really well. I set out at a fast but controlled pace, hitting the start of the climb in around 10th place. I was able to pick off 3 or 4 people on the climb up to the summit, making sure I was moving at a strong pace but not burning too many matches too early. I find this is the key to fell running, running at a pace you know you can sustain with just enough energy to press on at the top of the climb. After the first ascent I was able to put some time into the runners behind me, cruising around the flatter top section of the race. I lost a bit of time on the downhill towards the hairpin bend but was able to move forward again on the second climb.

I was by myself for most of the race so it would be nice to latch onto some slightly faster runners and stay with them. This is something I will work on for the summer season. I finished the race in 6th place with a comfortable gap over the runners behind me. I think with a bit more mileage, strength and conditioning, and more fell specific training I could do well in the summer Gritstone Series races. I will be focusing more on road racing over the next few months but am really looking forward to races like Edale and Hope fell race in the Summer.

With 5 more races still to go, you can still be apart of the Gritstone Series. You can enter the series Here

All’s Well That Ends Well…

It happens, yet as ever the fell running community did what the fell running community always does, just got on with it. Smiling of course.

OK, so things went a little askew, there was a definite moment of confusion for both the runners and for the race organiser. Yet this is fell running. So what happened? Without delving into a public enquiry the lead runners were sent the wrong way on the course by a race marshal. At the top of the first climb the leaders it would appear were directed towards the summit of Win Hill as opposed to dropping down towards Ladybower Reservoir. Oops…  Then a number of runners in the mid pack stopped and questioned the route. I (Stu) appeared over the hill and I was asked the actual route. I agreed that I felt the runners were right, ‘You drop down’. The cry went up from another runner calling everyone back… most did turn back, around the top 20 (estimate) didn’t.
It was a ‘mess of fell runners’ for only a few minutes as runners charged one way, then turned and charged back again. Come on folks, it was verging on the comical and looking back, yes I’m laughing at the memory. To their credit the runners who turned, carried on and raced.  One runner was laughing, ‘Only in fell running, and it’s flippin’ freezing so I’m keeping going’.  Never a truer word.
So now we have two sets of runners, potentially heading around Win Hill towards each other… have to say we did have a laugh at the thought of this one on the side of the hill.  Fortunately, the leaders hit the top of the hill and just turned and ran to the finish.  Although, a couple did try to make amends and cut across the heather to join the route proper.

The Race organiser was contacted.  He was, for a minute, speechless…then, ‘Tell me that again’.  His next words can not be printed…  As to the poor marshal.  Look, we really appreciate you being on the hill, in the horrible weather we had tonight. Stuff happens, everyone was safe and got back to base OK. So have a whiskey, laugh at the confusion of the sight of runners going in a multitude of directions. It’s OK, it’s fell running.  We all had a good time and that’s what matters.
Why didn’t I get the camera out, I have no idea… you just had to be there, definitely potential for a Monty Python sketch.

More Winners than Losers
So here’s what happened with the results.
The leaders of the race who completed, what shall from this point forward, be known as the Hope Wakes Fun Run, all got a prize… As to those that got it right and battled to finish the full course, with a little extra, they took the trophies home.

Fun Run Winners:
Stuart Bond and Helen Thorncliffe
Longer Than Expected Race, Winners:
David Sykes and Anna Hoogkamer  (Yes, Dave we agree you should get a mention in Fell Runner Mag, too.)

As for the Gritstone Series Leader Board… how do we sort this one out?  Well we don’t.  This is ‘the Round That Didn’t Happen’.  It won’t count for the series. We think that is only right.  For having made this decision, you will now only have to complete 3 of the ‘Short’ Series Races, not 4… I’ll amend the website to reflect this in the coming days.

So that’s it folks… a new kind of race format arrived on the scene tonight, albeit vaguely familiar and it became known as the Hope Wakes Fun Run – very much the ‘Round’ that wasn’t.

Ahhh well, All’s Well That Ends Well.

The Gritsone Series Just Got Tougher…

Well in one sense, yes the 2015 Gritstone Series has just become tougher. In another a little easier…

For 2015 there is a new format. There is now a choice of Summer short races and in October three longer races, of which the shortest is 15.3 kilometres. The idea is simple and we believe makes completing the Gritstone Series a little more straightforward by reducing the number of races to complete the Series to four. However, within the four completed races you are expected to complete one of the longer October races.  That means to compete in the Series you must run three ‘Summer Short’ events and one of the longer ‘October Long’ races.  See what I mean, it’s tougher as a Series, yet easier to complete…

The ‘Summer Short’ Races are:
22nd March,  Wolf’s Pit Fell Race: 9km / 5.6mi 450m / 1476ft of ascent
5th June, Castleton Fell Race: 10.8km / 6.7mi 458m / 1503ft of ascent
14th June, Accelerate Edale Fell Race: 7.6km / 4.7mi 402m / 1319ft of ascent
5th July, Great Hucklow Fell Race: 9.8km / 6.1mi 340m / 1115ft of ascent
7th August, Salt Cellar Fell Race: 10.9km / 6.8mi 486m / 1594ft of ascent
5th September, Longshaw Sheepdog Trials Fell Race: 9.7km / 6mi 305m / 1001ft of ascent

(Editors Note: Yes we know that March is not summer, but believe me the sun always shines at Wolf’s Pit, honest!)

So no surprises there then, pretty much as it has been over the last couple of years. One change is that Edale and Castleton are now not taking place in the same weekend – they are a week apart.  Each of the Summer races is in it’s own right a bit of classic, with four of them being very traditional and around for quite a few years. Salt Cellar and Wolf’s Pit are the relative new comers.
Both Edale and Longshaw (2014 video below) are attached to traditional Peak District ‘Fayers’. Edale, with the annual village Country Day, offering a whole host of tented amenities including the all important cake stall and beer tent, not forgetting the attractions in the main ring. Longshaw as the full name suggests, is an important county sheep dog trials and again post run amenities are guaranteed to please, as is the case at all of  these events.

The longer October races are all fairly new to the fell running event calendar, yet very welcome they are. Each offers something unique with Grin ‘n Bear It being a traditional navigation race as each runner has to find the fastest track to each named check point on the route. Last year saw many less experienced fell runners attempting and completing the race with honour.  It is the longest race in the series, but the honour of the most ascent falls, or should that be rises, to Windgather at over 2,500 feet. At least we are safe in the knowledge that what goes up does come down, thankfully!
Curbar Commotion (2014 video below), enters its second year and proved to be superbly organised run over the iconic Gritstone crags above the village of Curbar. Over 200 runners toed the start line.

The October longer races are:
4th October, Curbar Commotion Fell Race: 15.3km / 9.5 miles 403m / 1300ft of ascent
11th October, Windgather Fell Race: 21.8km / 13.5mi  762m / 2500ft of ascent
31st October, Grin ‘n Bear It: 25.6km / 15.9mi 591m / 1939ft

Inov-8, the British company responsible for a range of iconic fell running shoes, equipment and clothing are once again the main sponsor of the event. With a new range of shoes and updates hitting the shelves of the Inov-8 Running Centre  at Accelerate Running Store this year, the brand will be supporting with an enviable prize list. To ensure the winners get to choose what it is they want from the Inov-8 range the prizes will be issued as gift vouchers. Last year the Gritstone Series overall winners found themselves with £100 of Inov-8 spending power.

So bring on the 2015 Gritstone Series, let’s get those entry forms filled and may the racing begin!  Bring It On!
You can enter the 2015 Gritstone Series Here >>
Full details of the 2015 Gritstone Series can be found Here >>

You can follow the Gristone Series on Twitter by checking out @accelerateuk or by searching and using #GSSERIES  Updates will also be posted on the Accelerate Face Book page.


The Final Countdown…

With one race to go in the Accelerate Gritstone Series – Grin & Bear It on 1st Nov- both the men’s and women’s podium places are being hotly contented.

Gaye FThe current ladies leader is Gay Fletcher (pictured at Edale) of Smiley Paces; she has had an amazing consistent series and so far completed every race. I know she is planning on running Grin & Bear it so she will complete every race and almost certainly be in the prizes. Second and third places are two different generations with Pat Goodall of Totley currently lying in 2nd and is completing 60 races in her 60th year and as I write is heading for 100. In third spot is Ellie Crownshaw of Bradfield School, a former Gritty Series winner completing the adult series for the 1st time. She has improved amazingly throughout the series and one to watch for next year and beyond. So who can so can challenge these three? With 4 race to count, there are a number of ladies who have done very well in three events so far, all from local Peak District clubs. From Dark Peak Claire Oliffe and Jane Crowson, Caz Kay from Totley, Zoe Proctor and Emma Gerrad of Pennine all have a chance of challenging the podium spots if they complete Grin & Bear it and do well.

Stu Bond, Dark Peak, has already secured a win in the Men’s Sereies, no one can get enough points at Grin & Bear It to challenge him. Steve Franklin, Totley  and Martin Dawson are currently 2nd and 3rd respectively. Jonny Crickmore , Dark Peak could challenge for the podium as he had an excellent start to the season. Apparently he is injured at the moment so don’t think he will be at the race.  Andrew Wainwright had good runs at Great Hucklow  and Salt Cellar and a good run this weekend could see him in a top spot.

There is a lot of competition in the vet categories. On current standing in the mens, 4th– 8th place are all held by V40’s with Dark Peaks Graham Moffatt in the lead. Dark Peak are also doing well in the V50’s with a battle going on between Gavin Williams and Andy Barnet, both previous winners. Jeremy Brayshaw, Totley, and Mike Arundale are battling it out for the V60 honours. The women’s V40 is been led by Gay Fletcher, V50 Pat Goodall and V60 Dot Kesterton (Team Accelerate-Scott). 15 miles of peak bog will finally decide the places, it will be a tough one, so you would be advised to ‘Grin and Bear It’.

(Review written by Debs Smith, Accelerate and Dark Peak)

Grinning All the Way…

The Gritstone Series is ever evolving and changing, for 2014 we added our most northly race, the “Grin & Bear it”. This is organised by Woodhead mountain rescue. We are keen to add another longer race to the series, at 15 miles and taking in a different part of the Dark Peak; so the Grin & Bear it ticked all the boxes.

Starting at Langsett barn the race climbs up to the very remote, bleak, boggy but spectacular Outer Edges, which was recently described by one of our customers on a recee as a “lunar landscape”.  Although the peak bogs can be intimating especially after rain you normally don’t sink too far. But be warned there is an especially deep bog but we have been assured that a member of the mountain rescue team will be there to take you picture before helping you out! All the checkpoints will be manned by mountain rescue so there will be plenty of marshals out of the course. You will have to navigate your own way between the check points so map and compass are essential especially if the mist is down (picture).

Outer Edges

I spoke to Simon the race organiser this week to confirm a few details. The race start is 10:30am NOT 10am as on some documents. Plus there is entry on the day for runners. It will cost you more to enter on the day but as the money is going to Mountain Rescue I am sure no one will mind. There will be much needed hot food available at the end. Plus the Lord Major of Sheffield is starting the race.

Having not done the race before I am very jealous of everyone taking part. I do have a love/hate relationship with Outeredges it is amazing we have such wilderness so close to cities and main roads. I love jumping across peat bogs but I do get flash backs to various High Peak Marathon adventure when up there! I will be here at Accelerate as it is a Saturday, however Stu will be out and about, with his camera, so don’t forget to smile as he snaps away and cheers you all on. Hopefully he will bring some cake back to the shop, or there could be an ‘issue’.

If anyone has any questions on the race or kit for it do give us a call 0114 2422569. It is full FRA kit: full waterproof cover- top with hood and bottoms, hat, gloves, whistle,  map, compass and emergency food.

It is going to be a tough but fantastic race, ENJOY!

The Curbar ‘Loco-Commotion’…

Now that was fast!

This time last year it rained, it was proper chilly and there was no Curbar Commotion. This year there was, plus it was sunny, warm and dry – what a difference a year makes.

So year one of the Curbar Commotion and the first you worry about as a race organiser, ‘Is will anyone come along?’  Well the CC organiser need not have worried as a touch over 210 runners rolled up. From the moment they arrived it was clear the organisation was going to be good.  Registration through to the facilities available at Cliff College ensured everyone was looked after, what ever the weather, although the high numbers did cause a strain on the available parking. Everything was on site, easy to find and registration was fairly swift.

Registration in the Sunshine

In view of the lack of recent rain, conditions were good and fast underfoot – well apart from one soggy section that most could leap over.  The route started only a very short distance from the registration area and headed out on local lanes before joining the track under Froggat.  The start was fast with Stuart Bond laying his intent of a fast run regardless of who went with him, or on this occasion, who didn’t.  This is Bondy’s back yard and he knew the course, the tracks and the terrain very well. He is in good form at the moment and very quickly found himself out on his own. A couple of folk watching did remark that he wouldn’t be the winner as he had gone out far to fast! Errm, yes well, that’s kinda what he does…

Ready to Race...

Ready to Race…

Along Froggat the racers climbed, before they turned across the moor and headed over to White Edge, the summit of the race. In poor conditions this will prove to be a slow section as even today it was a touch soggy on the single track (trod) through the heather. The race then rolled back via Wellington’s Monument, through the woods and back to Curbar and the finish.  Bondy had raced away at a good tempo and was simply too good for anyone else on this day. He looked like he was cruising, chatting to those he knew as he went around.  Well it’s all right for some, I guess, but he did finish around 3-minutes clear of his nearest rival in a time of 54:10.  That said, it is great that each year he supports local races and continues to race the Gritstone Series and is an approachable chap happy to talk racing, training and generally running in the Peak.  All bar the counting it does look like he has the Gritstone Series in the bag.  Bondy, like so many others, was quick to thank the organisers and he felt the day was well organised and marshalled and the home made cake on offer to all the racers a definite plus point!

Winning the ladies race...

Winning the ladies race…

The women’s race was less straightforward. The eventual winner Clare Thompson, was quite surprised to hear she was leading at around 8k, although the chasing pack was not far behind. Although more noted for her road running than her time spent on the fells, she could perhaps reconsider and have a look at a few more hills going into 2015 – well why not?

So all in all the Curbar Commotion was a success and will be welcomed back into the Gritstone Series for 2015.  The series next year promises a few changes and a move in a new direction for the Series.  The good news is that current sponsors of the Series Inov-8 think it is a great idea and have promised to continue their support of what they described as the premier Series in the Peak District. The Gritty Series, too, is set to continue as we encourage the youngsters to get involved and give the challenge of fell running a go.



Curbar Commotion – Series Event Update

Early this month we were advised that Windgather Fell Race had been cancelled. Despite the best efforts of the race organisers, contractual difficulties with the Forestry Commission forced their hand.  A very unfortunate situation and one has to say, a loss to the Derbyshire Fell Racing scene.

With this in mind the decision has been taken to replace the event, allbeit at short notice with the Curbar Commotion, a new race. The Commotion takes place the week before the date of Windgather and as this clashes with other events it was decided to run the 2014 Series with 4 events to count from 5, although this could still include the all New Curbar Commotion. This appears to be the fairest way to proceed, despite not being ideal.

The Curbar Commotion, joins the Gritstone Series and is set to be a part of the 2015 set up as well. The race is 9.5 miles in length and has 403 metres of ascent. It also passes through some true ‘Gritstone’ Country, so is a very fitting addition to the Series. The start and finish is from the Cliff College in Calver and the race orgnaisers have promised a cracking route and a fell runners post race feast for spectators and racers alike.
Registration is from 10am, with the race starting at 11am, on the 5th October.

Curbar Edge

True Gritstone Country – Curbar Edge

The series is currently led by Stuart Bond and Gay Fletcher. It is to be confirmed if they will be running the race, although Stuart has intimated it is very likely that he will be there. The Accelerate-Salomon supported runner is a regular winner on the locals fells and has only once missed out on winning the Gritstone Series, although nothing is certain yet. Clare Oliffe has improved greatly this year, with her most notable wins coming at Salt Cellar and Longshaw suggesting she will no doubt contest the title, although the ladies series is still wide open and much will depend on who races the last two events.

We hope you can make it to the Curbar Commotion, giving the race a real Gritstone Series turnout…

Event Details can be found over on the Events Page >>

The Gritstone Series 2014 is supported by Inov-8 and Accelerate.



The Wolf’s Pit 2014

Another great race at Shatton today for the Wolf Pit Fell race, the first of the Accelerate Gritstone series. A bright sun and glorious clear skies meant it looked like near perfect race conditions. At least until runners stepped out of their cars to be met with a chilling wind which had caused the collapse of the race HQ marquee overnight. All was restored in time for the registration opening, the numbers running kept the registration tent busy right up until the start with a long queue of runners in various stages of winter kit stood waiting in the wind. with a briefing from the race organisers and a quick random kit check lottery conducted it was to the start with the assembled field spread out across the start line and a fast jostling start down the field to the stream crossing on the road .

The tarmac soon ended and it was into the beginning of the near 600′ climb over the first mile to Shatton lane. It was hands on knees time for most by the time the lane was reached and then a short section of rocky track running until the route looped round onto Abney Moor and a section of fast flowing dry underfoot singletrack . Perfect running! This led to the first descent and some fast downhill running towards Offerton Hall and then steady climb back towards the transmitter. This is a race with a sting in the tail though and the unprepared might have thought this was the end of the climbing. Not to be ,as a quick downhill section on the road leads back to a steep climb back towards the lane and the transmitter. From here it was the final plunge back down the way we had come with the dry grassy slopes making for some seriously fast running back to the road and then into the finish field and a hard push on aching legs into a strong headwind that meant sprint finishes were even tougher than usual.
There was some excellent running with plenty of Dark Peak vests at the finish early on and Simon Bailey of Mercia finishing first with a time of 37.58.

Wolfs Pit fell race

For me it was a tough race , my usual unintentional race strategy of passing lots of people on the climbs only to have plenty of them hurtle past me on the descents worked as well as it usually does..I was pleased with my time, well over three minutes faster than when i first ran this in 2012. If i work on my downhill technique i might shave a couple more minutes off next time!

It was a great race to start the season.Thanks to the organisers & marshals and the 338 runners who ran.

James Pierce

Series Round-Up

4570091232Windgather is once again the final round of this years Gritstone Series and there is much to play for.  Chris Shelton, currently leads the standings for the men and has found himself in a strong position going into the final race. Windgather would have been a course to have suited him and he has proved in training that he has the speed to match Stuart Bond.  Unfortunately for Chris, he is unavailable through injury and as a result has perhaps handed the title to three times winner, Stuart Bond.  But then you never know… Andy Taylor is another potential for a top 3 spot as is Stuart Walker.  It could be yet be close, we’ll just have to wait and see.
The V40 category remains wide open with Andrew Wainwright looking over his shoulder at Peter Hague.  Yet, should they not turn up to run then, Mark Havenhand is in with a shout.  The V60 catergory looks to be in the bag for  Barry Blyth, with the V50’s going to the wire – all depends who turns up on the day, between Andy Barnett (DPFR) and Andy Buck (Steel City Striders).

For the women, well it’s in the bag for Helen Elmore.  Helen has five straight wins, despite some close racing with Sally Fawcett who looks to be secure in second spot.  Claire Oliffe could yet make it onto the podium as could Alison Wainwright, so despite less women completing the series, there is enough to play for to keep everyone interested.

Results for the series so far:  Women     Men

First Time Winner…

It was a first for Tom Saville, as he crossed the finish line in a senior fell race for the first time. We all know the eighteen year old has a turn of speed and in this race he also demonstrated he can run with a cool head. Race Sensibility usually comes with race experience… This is Tom’s story of his race.

I’d never done this race before as I wasn’t old enough, apparently I still didn’t look old enough as I got mistaken for being in the junior race on my warm up. But anyway, I spent a significant amount of time trying to memorise the race map at the start so I had a rough idea of what to expect.

On the start line I didn’t have any real expectations except to run to my best ability. I was having a good laugh with Chris Shelton and Stu Walker but I had noticed some other lads my age that were pretty quick and they were my ideal targets to race.

It was all go from the off and Stu along with the other two lads took off at a incredible pace, however I was told by several people (Including Chris and the course record holder Stuart Bond) that the first hill was a killer and not to set off too fast, so I sat in about 7th ish just behind Chris.

As we approached the first hill Chris and I saw that one of the lads my age, Jack Ross, was leading and Chris and I had a bit of a chat about how we thought he’d set off very quickly. We continued to talk all the way up to the lower slopes of the hill, which we think annoyed the guy just behind us quite a lot (sorry about that if you’re reading this).

From there on we split up a bit and I settled into a nice steady rhythm up the hill, not catching on the lead three but not dropping back either. I maintained roughly the same gap all the way to the first summit and gained a bit back on them on the decent, probably because I didn’t have to look for the tapes to follow whereas they did. Towards the summit of the second climb I put some effort in to catch the leaders and just got to them by the top. At this point I didn’t feel strong enough to take the lead and just hung on the back of the group.

The road section, which for me marked roughly the half way point, felt hard and the pace seemed to really shoot up. I’d noticed we’d dropped Stu, leaving just us three under twenties (Jack, Bertie and me) to battle it out.

As we got on to the single track section the pace had started to slow but I still didn’t feel good enough to take the lead, plus there was no way of getting past Jack on the narrow track. Soon the single track path was more open and Stu had nearly caught us back up so I decide to take to the front and try and open up a gap. I love running on twisting single track and so thought it was a good place to push the pace up. The adrenaline of leading a senior race overall may also have contributed to my speed.

Soon me and Bertie were on our own out in front and coming up to the final climb I was beginning to wander how much he had left in his legs and if he was going to just suddenly fly past me. I did know he was quick on the road.

Tom Saville, Fell Runner

The steep ascent from the stream up the final climb seemed to be my only chance and I maintained my pace. This put a small gap between me and Bertie. I kicked again at the top in an attempt to gain as much distance I could on him before the road. From there all the way to the finish I was running on the adrenaline of winning my first senior race but was constantly listening out for the sound of someone coming up behind me on the final road section. The cheers at the finish just made me run faster.d and with the race being a road finish though the village I ideally needed to drop him before then.

As this was my first overall win I didn’t really know what to do at the finish so I just limply put my arms in the air as I crossed the line, I probably just looked a bit confused to be honest but never mind.

Great race, great course and great competition.

A Weekend of Frantic Racing… (Part 2)

Edale Fell Race 2013, Finish LineThe weather was better in Edale than in the centre of Sheffield (apparently) and it is not very often you can say that about the Peaks, let’s be honest.  The sun was out, the hill sides were bright green and at 8am there was not a cloud in the sky.  The Edale Fell Race, is organised by Debs, from Accelerate, and each year the monies raised from the event are passed back to the local community projects and also Edale Mountain Rescue who once again would be providing valuable cover for the race. As part of everyone’s race fee there is free entry into the Country Day and Fayre, so allowing the runners and their families to ‘make a day of it’.  This was also race-2 following Friday night’s Castleton Fell Race and there were a few pairs of sore legs around.

Edale Fell Race, Sunday 9th June.
For those at the front end of the race hoping for an easier time than on Friday, were about to be both disappointed and once again tested. For Helen Elmore, who following a close win at Castleton (Race Report Here) found herself up against an inform Sally Fawcett and Steph Curtis. Steph hadn’t been racing too much recently and admitted to secret training by spending a few days smashing a concrete path in her garden. For the men, Stuart Bond, had already realised that despite racing hard on Friday he would have to once again ‘do battle’ against the fresh legs of Stuart Little, Adam Osbourne and John  Heneghan and that was just for starters.

Now Edale is a proper Derbyshire Fell Race. Whatever your standard, it hurts, it’s that simple. The first climb from the field at the back of the village takes you underneath Ringing Roger and up onto Kinder Edge, before the first route choice to reach Grindslow is presented to the runners. This is followed by a final strength sapping climb to the summit of Grindslow, which is followed by the second route choice from the summit to the village and then back down the road to finish in the Country Fayre.
Once again, it was Sally who led Helen out on a run-walk from the start field to Kinder edge.  Upon reaching the Edge path the two were locked together with Steph Curtis in close attendance. For a short period Helen continued to let Sally take on the brunt of the work before Helen took over along the rocky section following the short-cut across the edge. By Grindslow Helen had clear space between her and the chasing pair of Sally and Steph. As they approached the final run along the bottom field before the run back to the finish, Helen had eased back, even managing a wave to her family and was just letting gravity take her down to the road. On the final descent it was clear that Steph had moved into second spot (and first V40) with the younger Sally continuing to fight for third place as SYO’s Hazel Tant had made up some ground. Sally, used her speed on the road to ensure third spot.

For the men it was a similar story on the climb with John Heneghan leading the group onto the edge path. Stuart Bond, Adam Osbourne and Rob Little were all in close attendance.  Once on the edge it was Mr Bond who took the race on, leading with Adam a stride behind and John and Rob not so far behind him. Anything could happen.  The group stayed pretty much together across the ‘short cut’ with Stuart and Adam continuing to edge a little further ahead and by the time the final summit was reached they had a gap on the chasing pair. It was a gap, but not much of one.
Stuart, leading them out, ignored the traditional runners descent of Grindslow, instead opting for what he believed to be the quicker footpath descent. Neck and neck over the rough stuff it was not until the fast section was reached that the race winner opened up that decisive gap. By the field and final run in Stuart was leading, but still could not afford to throttle back as Adam is well known for his speed. It was later reported by Stuart that he came down the road at around 5-minute mile-ing before turning into the field to win.

It was a tough days racing, tactical as opposed to the raw flat out running of Castleton on Friday and I am sure there will be a pairs of legs that are feeling a little sore.  But then why have a beer tent at the end of a race if you can’t put it to good use!

A Weekend of Frantic Racing… (Part 1)

The first weekend of June always promises so much, what with the hope of good weather, plus two cracking fell races to get you through the weekend. Castleton takes place on the Friday night and with Edale that same weekend, on Sunday.  For some it can also prove to be a tough weekend as they race both for others a bit of a dilemma as they decide which to race and to ensure they get their scores on the doors for the Gritstone Series.  Fortunately, the sun shone, and entries to both events exceeded the year before which perhaps considering the contrast is of little surprise.

Castleton Fell Race, Friday 7th June
The sun was definitely shining, the car park on the field was filling fast and some of the best local talent were about to test themselves.  John Crickmore and Kristian Jones are relatively unknown in

Sally Fawcett

Sally Fawcett, Smiley Paces, Chases Hard…

these parts and had Series wins behind them already. With Stuart Bond, demonstrating some good early season form this looked likely to be a tough race. The women’s race was also eagerly anticipated with the inform Sally Fawcett challenging Helen Elmore at Burbage this was a race that could go either way. Helen, is well versed in the technical nature of fell running whilst Sally has a the turn of speed usually associated with the roads.  Castleton, is a tough Derbyshire course and has a steep climb followed by technical descents and a fast run from the base of Back Tor to the summit of Mam Tor that is mostly paved.  It was going to be a close call.

And so it proved, at least in the ladies race. By the summit of Lose Hill and the end of climb number one, Sally had the advantage, just. Helen, had a game plan and by the time the foot of Back Tor was reached, her race face was ‘on’!  Then as Sally passed through a mere 10 seconds later, it was clear that her grit and determination were to the fore.  “Race On!”  Mam Tor was reached with the two women neck and neck and the rush down to Hollins Cross unable to split the pair.  Now for the final technical descent back to the last kilometre of road and then onto the finish. By the final curve at the foot of the main steps was reached a gap had opened. Advantage Ms Elmore.  Yet with the road ahead there was no let up as Sally chased hard.  Yet Helen should never be underestimated and her flat speed has improved this year.  So it was that by the time the finish was reached a mere 6-seconds was the difference. The race resulted in a 40-second course PB for Helen and for Sally, encouragement before Sunday and the Edale Fell Race.

For the men it was a different story. Seconds, in previous meetings, had so far separated Kristian Jones and Stuart Bond. Yet by the end of the first climb onto Lose Hill had been reached it was clear that Kristian was flying and that Mr Bond was off colour. And that was that, the race had been won and for Kristian who never once gave up on his speed, a new course record.  The biggest surprise in the mens race was the emergence of Ultra Runner and another of the Accelerate Supported Runners, Stuart Walker, who gunned it from the start to finish in 3rd spot, his highest ever placing in a short fell race.

So that was Friday night, next stop Edale with Stuart Bond thinking about a win and Helen thinking about another hard race as Sally had confirmed she would be there. It was all to play for as wins equal much needed points in the Gritstone Series.

Race Reporting: Burbage 2012


Scrabble as you Scramble

Report By Dot Kesterton, Smiley Paces

How do you keep your mind occupied whilst your legs, lungs, heart are exploding on a tough fell run?
Dot selected 7 random letters at the beginning of the race and spent the next hour making new words which now form the Burbage Skyline Fell Race Report 2012, (with just a little bit of poetic licence)

The Letters: E R S A N D T

Date: 8th May 2012
Drat: I’ve forgotten my pins, compass, whistle
Stared: at the hills and thought
Aren’t: sure I can get up them, but
Ran: Well that’s why we came.
Ardent: is my middle name
Tread: carefully, it’s ankle breaking terrain
Danes: Once ran over these hills too.
Neat: lines of runners snaking up the hills.
Sad: Not up here I’m not
Stand: No, keep moving
Re stand: oops, I’ve fallen in the water
Stranded: in the middle of a peat bog
Arse: end of the universe in the middle of this peat bog
Daren’t: look back
Astern: I might well be.
A stern: talking to
Red ants: No but lots of sheep poo- pooh.
Darnest: I’m trying, I really am
Dart: No, it was Sally whizzing past
Arsed: if I’m going to do this again- (well til next year.)
Rants: I’m never going to do this again… til next year.
Ran: it!
Star end: with Lotty, 1.11; Fi, 1.07; Isobel, 1.05; Sheila, 1.08; Sally, 50.10! Ruth, 1.03; me, 1.01 and Julie, Fiona and Marilyn, Stuart and Debs in support.
Rest and: A pint with the Smiley Paces et all.

Dot Kesterton, second from the left, with her Smiley Team mates, post race.

Race Reporting: Castleton 2012

Monsoon Fell Race

Drizzle, Rain, Monsoon and Ice Pellets!!

Report By Matt Ridge, Totley AC.

For my first attempt at a fell race further afield than my ‘home’ races of Totley AC, I thought I’d give Castleton a try. I was aware it had a reasonable (understatement) climb in it, but surely a bit of light rain would keep me cool?

After a misty drizzly drive from Sheffield with three other Totleyites in the A-Team bus we parked in the misty drizzly car park at Castleton and were told the forecast was mist and drizzle. No surprises then. The weather got progressively worse and I made the decision to wear my goretex jacket (that I usually wear to work!) under my vest. Best decision I ever made as after the race started and we began the climb up Lose Hill the weather got worse, my feet were soaked and I started to feel older. Plenty of fellow runners were game for a bit of banter on the way up: “Why are you doing this?” Reply: “I don’t know”.

At the top of the hill with the rain now blowing uphill at a nice angle into my eyes I was strangely enjoying the experience. A battle along the ridge, climbing higher at points up to Mam Tor, and only managing to turn my ankle once on a submerged stone, it was time for my calves to start aching in an unknown way. The turn and the steady trot back to base couldn’t come soon enough, and I was also gaining motivation from my fellow runners with looks of relief flying back down the hill past me.

The roar from the immense crowd of 3 marshalls at the finishing line spurred me on to a fast finish and some well earned champ points. I found the rest of the fell runners crammed into the hut in the field and everyone looked suitably pleased with themselves. I’m hooked on this fell running lark and the weather can only add to the fun.

Back in Sheffield myself, and 3 other victors (we all won today!) of the Castleton race went for a curry and a couple of drinks. And my calves were very happy in their natural environment once more.

Fast fading light on the ridge above Castleton, Back Tor behind, Mam Tor ahead.

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.

Race Reporting: Edale 2010

Accelerate Edale Fell Race, June 13th 2010

A previous counter in the National Fell Championships this event deserves it’s ‘tough’ reputation. A rapid ascent direct from the start line to the summit of Ringing Roger and the edge of Kinder sorts many a runner out and often sees the front runners quickly out pacing the chasing pack.

It was Stuart Bond who once again took charge as the runners topped the first climb and from here it was clear that barring disaster Stuart was away and clear. Rob Baker (DPFR) gave chase, followed by Pete Hodges and then a pack of runners that included all the contenders in the age group catergories.

In the ladies race it was to be a differant story for Gritsone Series leader Helen Elmore. Judith Jepson (Fat Boys) lead the charge across Kinder Edge, with a fast closing Helen not to far behind. Finding the best route through the rocks around Grinds Brook is always fun and by this time Judith’s lead was in danger.

The descent off Grindslow Knoll can sometimes provide racers with a choice: the direct route or to take the trail to the side. For the leaders it was a clear choice – direct! From the fields below the leader was clearly well ahead and word had filtered through that we were watching Mr Bond. By the time he had reached the finish line (33.34) he was two minutes clear of Rob Baker, who to be fair had not long returned to full training following the London Marathon. The Vet 40 Series battle continued with Graham Moffat once again pipping Mike Nolan to the line.

Somewhere between Grinds Brook and the finish Helen opened up close to a minutes gap on Judith crossing the line in 41.50. Judith domintaed the Vet 40 race, with Steph Curtis finishing not so far behind.

Conditions in Edale were good, the sun even managed to say hello, and racers were able to enjoy the traditional Edale Country Day, post race. The prize presentation was made with the prize list being supported by Inov-8, with New Balance and Terra Nova supporting the Series.

Race Reporting: Castleton 2010

Castleton Fell Race, June 4th 2010
Once again fell runners came out in force for Round 3 of the Accelerate Gritstone Series. Entries were again way up on last year with over 240 toeing the start lane on a sunny summers evening. The odd roll of thunder could be heard in the distance and race organisers, Charlie and Stuart, were hoping the clouds would stay high, keeping the rain at bay.
Castleton is also the only race in the series that has a junior race and the prize presentation for this took place with the seniors lined up and ready for the off.

The Series Leaders, Stuart Bond and Helen Elmore, were both on hand along with many of the Vet leaders and it proved that places would be hard fought with what turned out to be a number of ‘Private Battles’ taking place during the race. Mike Nolan and Graham Moffatt were no exception and it was clear these two would be racing hard and keeping one another firmly in their respective sights.

The race would be won early on, but not without a fight.

Stuart made the first call of the day, electing to use his speed to get him away, fast, on the road out before the punishing climb to the summit of Loose Hill. By the time he had passed over the summit, had cleared Back Tor he was away and clear by Hollins Cross, with what appeared a remarkable lead. At this point it seemed the course record was in danger.

For Helen, it seemed tactics were also fairly straightforward. Run fast from the start, whilst leaving a little in the tank for the climb to Loose Hill. From the gun to just below that first summit Zanthe Wray was in close attandance and it was here that Helen took the opportunity to open up a gap and take the lead.

For both Stuart and Helen this is how things were to stay. Stuart missed the course record by a mere 30 seconds, whilst Helen’s time is as I write, waiting to be confirmed by the organisers.

For many others it was a great evenings racing and fell running on what is a deceptively tough course with a blend of fast running and technical ‘fast feet’ descents. As to the speed of Richard Snowdon on the decent from Hollins Cross, well, wow!

In a little over a weeks time attention turns to Round 4 and the Edale Fell Race, all part of the Edale Country Day – a great day out for all the family and one superb event that takes in the edge of Kinder. See you there.

Race Reporting: Great Hucklow 2010

Lone Runner GH10
Great Hucklow Fell Race, Fast and Furious….
Local races can sometimes be a full gone conclusion when you see the starting line up. This years Great Hucklow Fell Race proved to be an exception with many of the area’s faster paced fell runners on hand to provide a race who’s outcome was not decided until the final run into the finish.

Both Gritstone Series leaders, Helen Elmore and Stuart Bond were looking for 5 out of 5 wins and effectively clinching the Series titles. For both it was going to be a day of ups and downs and one requiring plenty of grit and determination. For Stuart he was up agaisnt fast paced Rob Little (DPFR) and international orienteer Oli Johnson (DPFR). From the gun Stuart did what he does best and led the way, with the advantage of having won here last year.
By the time the leaders had cleared Abney Moor Stuart had a small lead, but was definitely under pressure with Rob close on his heels and Oli, not so far behind.
With the drop into the valley bottom, Stuart maintained a lead, but realised that Oli was making headway and had closed the gap, now running in second.
From the valley floor the route again climbs steeply for the last time before a wooded drop back into the village and a last road run to the finish. It was on the very last climb that Stuart put in a final effort, saying, ‘I knew I had to make a last effort, so I attempted a kick up the hill, knowing that Oli may be quicker on the descent’. The effort worked for Stuart and he was able to extend his lead by a few seconds, finishing a mere 39 seconds to the good. Oli definitely finished fast and Rob was not so far behind.
Stuart had to work hard for his win, racing hard all the way to the line. It was a deserved win, that made him sweat in more than just effort. It was a good race.

For the ladies race, it was definitely a case of ‘Race On!’ with Helen Elmore, Karen Davison and last years winner Christine Howard all on the start line. The initial ascent was lead out by Xanthe Wray, with the main contenders all in close proximity. With the descent of Abney Moor, and some very rough open ground ensuring everyone was working hard. Helen and Christine were trailing Karen – just!

Every runner has their good days and lets face it, their bad days. For the hard working Helen, today was going to be one of those days. Moving house and poor rest going into the race had taken there toll and Helen pulled up and effectively jogged to the finish. She was very diplomatic and new she had perhaps ran to fast to early – ‘Just one of those days’, she later said.

For Karen it was a lead all the way with Christine always within a few seconds. Christine knew that Karen was fast on the ‘ups’ and she also knew that she would have to use her ‘flat speed’ on the final descent and then onto the final road section. And so it proved with Christine finishing fast and winning by a mere 10 seconds – breathtaking stuff!

Great Racing… oh yes and entries were again up by 33%. Gotta be good!

Race Reporting: Longshaw Fell Race 2010

Longshaw Report pic

By Debs Smith

Longshaw fell race always has a great relaxed atmosphere and this year was no exception. The 6th race in the Gritstone series proved to be crucial to a few categories but for others Windgather will be the decider.

The sun shone as we set off over Burbage. It is a great route. Starting with a long steady climb up to Burbage bridge before descending through the mud beside the river. Although it was relatively dry this year but there were still plenty of contenders for the annual “muckies leg price”. Next was a short but steep slog up Higger Tor before, for me, the best bit through the heather and a fantastic swooping decent. All was going well until the sting in the tale – the climb up the fields to the finish, with nothing left in the legs or lungs this went on for ever, but we were finally greeted by Jim Fulton over the loud speakers announcing the runners. With some information on each competitor, such as “Here comes, John, the fattest person running today”. I think I got off likely! As ever it was all in good spirits.

Lets be honest Longshaw is just one of those races, full of character, wit and humour and with prizes of cakes, jams and home grown tomatoes you can’t go wrong.

A great race – thanks to Jim and Hilary for organising, and of course, all the marshals.

Higger Tor

Race Reporting: Windgather Fell Race 2010

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…

Race Reporting: Wolfs Pit 2010

Stu B&W Web
Report By Stuart H.

The Series has now received over 100 entries and the ‘Bradda Dads’ who organised the Wolf’s Pit Fell Race have come in for plenty of praise too. It all sounds like a great way to start the 2010 Gritstone Series.
The race took place with the last of the snow still visible on the higher reaches of the Peak and with a cold north wind blowing in. With so many events happening locally entries were around the same as last year in this the second running of what was described by one competitor as a ‘Proper fell race with a little sting in the tail’. I think he was referring to the fact the race went ‘up the hill and came straight back down’.

The race was eventually won by Stuart Bond (DPFR) in 40.27 with Rob Little (DPFR) running into second with 42.30. Hopefully 3rd placed Angus Mccullough 45.18 felt the trip from Northumberland was worthwhile. For the men it was no surprise that Dark Peak took the team title home.

In the ladies race it was recent Dark Peak convert Helen Elmore who jogged home in an inspiring 50.35 and just missed out on the course record, by a mere 3 seconds. Helen had relaxed as she headed toward the finish knowing that a week later she would be racing at the Edale Skyline (Finishing 3rd lady). Helen later wrote and commented, “Thanks to the race organisers, marshalls, soup ladies and Accelerate. Really good route,friendly atmosphere- can’t wait for the rest of the series”.
In second spot was Totley’s Laura Gibson (53.03) with Steph Curtis finishing 3rd.

The next round of the Gritstone Series takes place on 11th May, the Burbage Skyline and no doubt will be a corker and heavily attended. Roy Gibson is the new race organiser taking over from Andy Moore who has deceided to enter the series he named.

Pictured: Race Winner Stuart Bond.

Race Reporting: Burbage Skyline 2010

Stu B&W Web
A record entry, long queues, a delayed start and a dry beer beer cask. Sounds like a good receipe for a succesful and enjoyable evenings racing. So it proved.

The entry record for the event was smashed and long queues ensured a swift descision to delay the start. The number of competitors that arrived caught everyone by surprise, especially as it was felt that the very chilly conditions would keep people at home – Wrong!
So 324 competitors headed from the Fox House Inn, down towards the Burbage Brook crossing, and around to Mother Cap before a short descent and then up onto Higger Tor. The ‘Plummet’ followed with a run down to the brook before climbing again to Burbage North. A final run along the ridge and a last descent to the finish and sprint for the line – well for some anyway.

The experienced and more recognised local fell runners were mixing with a number of fell running ‘newbies’, for whom there was definitely plenty of encouragement. It was however easy enough to spot those more used to tarmac.
That said one or two of the faster paced ‘roadies’ were definitely towards the front of the field. From the start Stuart Bond made his intentions very clear leading from the front as he lead the way to the first Brook crossing. In close attendance was a small group which included Rob Little and Neil Northrop. By the time the bottom of the ‘Plumett’ had been reached Mr Bond had opened a small gap with Mr Little continuing to chase hard.
Helen Elmore was clearly in determined mood as she had already run clear of Judy Jepson, at this very same point.

So this was how things would remain. Stuart ran home clear in 35.45 with Rob finishing in 37.38, with Helen clocking a very respectable time of 46.34.

Results were a little slower than normal, only because of the unexpected number of racers. Announcements were made and the bar was drunk dry.

If you ask me it was a highly succesful evening and racers, marshals, the organisers and the results team all deserve a pat on the back. Well done to one and all. Many thanks to all the staff at the Fox House for ensuring everyone was made to feel welcome.

So the attemtion now turns to the next race in the series, Castleton. See you here….

Thumbs Up BW
By Lucy Watkins, a fell running ‘newbie’.

WOW – So this is Fell Racing!
A multitude of feet, mud bogs, wild rock clambering, sleet sprinklings, peachy sunset glow, painful tired ascents, wild river sploshings, long power descent home to the big yellow flag that wasn’t near enough!!!

A fantastic show of people, runners and cheering watchers – (NOTE TO SELF – must have support crowd ready with warm clothes and chocolate…. and beer money!)

So even though I was expecting a course half the length it was a liberating experience, what with the rough terrain and late hour of the day – bootiful!

A wonderfully varied route beginning just below the Fox House pub – starting uphill (?!) then plummeting down through rocks to Burbage Brook and up the other side (where the reality of setting off so fast set in!) and veered off down and left towards the Surprise View car park on a nice sandy path through low shin-cutting heather. Evil up through the boulders – very pretty as I plodded at a walking pace with time to look around!
A stunning panorama met our eyes at the top, passed the Mother Cap rock, as the path flattened and opened up; looking towards Hope an orange misty glow was nestled in the valley bottom – a real prize in itself.
Along, then down, then an “Oh NO – we’ve got to go up that!” moment as we saw the fitter runners ahead and the realisation that we were joining the Higgor Tor path. Not so bad though!
Then WHOOOSH! – what a descent; the ground just fell away from the feet, back down to Burbage Brook, via some slippy mud and tree roots that no matter the warnings everyone seemed to go askew. A manic jump across the water, through the trees then another even more manic jump back across the water to even more mud-sucking bog, as the path slowly went up to Burbage Bridge. Another “Oh NO” moment as the faster runners could be seen silhouetted on the Burbage Edge skyline.
A dizzy skip across the muddied brook boulders onto the path above the Burbage cliff line as the last of the peach glow started to fade. A wonderful last blast negotiating the rocky path obstacles down to join the lower track and on, and on, and on it went. But then, there it was, in all its glory, the yellow flag and all the paraphernalia that goes with 300 people finishing a race just before dark, in the middle of nowhere, being cold, exhausted, thirsty, slightly disorientated but hugely relieved and happy!
But it was the number of feet at the start that I don’t think I’ll forget in a hurry – they were everywhere!!

So that was 5 ups and 5 downs!
Doesn’t sound too bad now . . . . I think I’ll be doing the next one!

Race Reporting: Burbage Skyline 2009

Mark Finish Burbage

By Mark Smalley

Burbage Skyline, my second ever fell race, the launch of the Accelerate Gritstone Series and a race beginning and ending at a pub, perfect!
A nice clear day, yet a cold wind chilling those in shorts and t-shirts leading to a penguin style huddle at the start line. A cheeky attempt to cut a couple of hundred metres off the start was quickly quashed by Andy Moore (race organiser) in his multicoloured jacket leading to a few questions raised as to whether he was wearing it for a bet?

Heading towards the back where I belonged I passed quite a few fast runners, Janet McIver among them, leading me to believe that the back was where I was destined to stay. A good start, finding some interesting routes down the first decent towards the stream and a fun jump across, only to struggle back up the slippery bank. Losing some time on the single file track through the heather was annoying at the time but a blessing when I still had some energy left for the finish. Through the woods and up to Mothercap, then on to Higgar Tor. The legs failing to make it all the way up without walking several times, due, I believe, to a lack of hills in Lincolnshire leading to a lack of quality hill training!

Next it was down the plummet, making up places I lost on the climbs and ‘then some’ as I sprinted straight down (probably due to my inexperience) and then into my favourite part of the race down by the stream. Another climb made my spirits sink and walking started again, sinking into the deep bog and falling over much to my embarrassment (at least I wasn’t the only one!)
Across the north bridge and onto the finish my legs still felt good and down the path towards the finish-line I made up a few valuable places. A sprint finish at the end brought me home in under an hour!

Overall a great race with some fantastic views along the edge, yet the cold wind was definitely felt on the top of Higgar Tor! Back from the finish for some warm clothes and a pint capped a memorable start to the fell season.

PIctured: Mark approaching the finish line
(Photo courtesey of Totley Nick).

Race Reporting: Castleton Fell Race 2009

Castleton Hollins Cross

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’!

Race Reporting: Edale Fell Race 2009

Lucy Edale

By Lucy Harris (ShUOC)

After watching the Castleton fell race on the Friday in preparation for the Stretton Hills race on Saturday, me and Zanthe were not going to miss out on the Edale race too, so aching legs were ignored and race numbers pinned on!
The pouring rain of the day before had cleared (well long enough for the race anyway) and it wasn’t as hot as the previous weekend so perfect running conditions (you could see the top as well!).

The first climb is always a killer up Ringing Roger, I tried to keep it steady so I might have something left in my legs at the top. I could see Zanthe for most of the climb so assumed she was using the same tactics!
On the edge path it took a good mile for my legs to start moving properly (they weren’t happy with me) but then we were away! I stopped dropping back through the field and started catching people up.

My favourite bit of this race is the descent off Grindslow Knoll. There are two options, run on the rocky path all the way which is slightly further or go for the straight down the grass option. There was no question, down the grass was quickest for me!
As we headed off the track I lost concentration for a second and that was enough for me to hit the floor. It hurt, landed hard on a combination of my face, chest and elbow(which came up in very pretty colours!). I lay there for a minute before I got up and realised that I’d damaged my ankle in a way that meant I couldn’t fly down the descent! All this before it even got steep!

I hobbled off from there and managed to get a jog going on the road.
When I reached the end it appeared Zanthe had also crashed, except she chose the edge path to do it on. As she came down the road it looked like there was blood coming from everywhere, and she’d cut her face! But as she got closer it was revealed this was only war paint that she had added to her face. The first thing she said with a grin was ‘I was winning’. Clearly that was more important than the hole’s she’s put in herself!
St Johns ambulance cleaned and bandaged her up in time for the prize giving and the spot prize for the person with the biggest crash was much appreciated! It was ideal as not many bum bags that size fit Zanthe!!
Lessons learnt from the day, if your going to crash, choose grass to land on and avoid large rocks!

There has been no stopping of training due to injuries – in fact I don’t think she’s had a days rest since, so all set for Tebay.
I need to test out my ankle soon, having spent the last weekend mountain biking to avoid using it, hopefully it’ll be alright for next weekend and the rest of the Accelerate Gritstone series!

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