My Grindleford Fell Race 2015

Grindleford Fell race 2015.

A couple of weeks back a group of us from TRC had done a steady recce of the Grindleford Fell Race. Despite us taking a couple of wrong turns. We knew largely what to expect in terms of terrain. The route was truly spectacular, and very enjoyable to do, so I was looking forward to giving it my best effort.

I turned up at Grindleford nice and early, getting a decent parking space, and I chatted to a few other runners I knew. I bumped into an old schoolfriend after the race, and an old band mate before it. I also bumped into Alex Kashefi, the barefoot runner who I follow on Instagram.

At first, I thought the race might be quiet, but the car parking field soon filled up, and the race organisers ran out of numbers as a record 431 something runners arrived to take part.

Eventually, the race got underway and after a couple of laps of the playing field the racing snakes were away.

Grindleford Fellrace

Photo: George Carman

The rest of us ran into the tight church lane funnel, where we got about 5 minutes running before we ground a waking queue. I was glad of this though because my quads were already burning and the calves weren’t best happy either.

Steep wooded Climb

Long Queues formed here:  Sue Jeff – On the Earlier TRC recce of the route. Photo: Ben Brindley

Church Lane Climb

It’s tight in there. As you can see. The whole thing soon ground to a walking Queue

After the steep climb of low branches and rock strewn path, we emerged onto a wooded hill with an epic view of the Hope valley. After a short downhill where I prematurely bolted past a load of runners, we were through a stile and up a boggy hillside heading toward the longshaw estate. This hillside was crisscrossed with small, rusty streams whose banks and been collapsed by grazing livestock, this turning the land into bog after bog. I was glad to get out of the fields and onto the hard packed dirt track above. This didn’t help me much though as a few runners came past me at this point.

I feared I’d spent my energy too soon. After a few minutes though I found a good rhythm and slowly started to pick a couple of people off. We turned left and encountered ditches and fallen trees as obstacles. I think this is where I started to believe a bit, because I went over the logs easily and headed down towards the road at the back of Owler Tor.

The Stream Crossing, Padley Gorge

Claire from TRC makes her way across the Stream on our recce: Photo Ben Brindley

Slowing slightly to get my breath, I knew that getting a good start at the top of Padley Gorge would be pivotal for my race.

When we recce’d this the week before, it slowed a few of us up because there is a stream crossing, and runners were choosing the boulders instead of just running through the water. The same happened on race night.

There was a pack of runners, all gingerly picking their way over the boulders, I blasted through the water, leaving them to wonder what whizzed past. Then up ahead a few more just entering the rather technical, rock and root littered path. I just pressed the peddle here and went flying past them. It’s a risky strategy, but I do love a technical downhill, and I tried to remember what my teammate, Ben told me about not over striding. One after another, I dropped runner after runner, this felt so good, because I rarely overtake anyone in races and always finish quite near the back. Only once was I overtaken on this section by a Steel City Strider and I managed to catch that lady and pass her later on.

Tony and Leon Testing the start of the Descent into Padley Gorge

Tony and Leon Testing the start of the Descent into Padley Gorge. Photo: Ben Brindley

At the bottom of the Gorge there’s a gravel downhill, my idea of hell, followed by a brief uphill section, past the ancient Ruined chapel where the Rouge Priest Nicolas Garlic was captured. Here I  ran with another chap, Ian for a minute or two, we marvelled at a small woman who came chugging past up like a Trojan warrior, before turning left through a kissing gate. It was at this point, that I put my foot in a divot and lost my balance. I didn’t go over but my confidence evaporated. I gestured for the runner behind me, a smiley Pacer to come past. A few seconds went by and I regained my composure and kept going.

Running down a green path into open meadows, I could see 4 runners ahead of me, the Trojan lady and Ian from the bottom of the Gorge were already pulling away, followed by the Steel City Strider and the Smiley Pacer. At the boundary of the first field I dropped the Strider. She followed the path, I bounded though a gap in the wall, landing a few steps ahead of her, then pulled away. The Smiler was just in front now, but we had the big flat meadow to cross.. Instead of trying to take her early, I thought it best to wait, I trailed her all the way to the river.

I’d envisioned myself fearlessly blasting through the river, but that was far from reality. As soon as I hit the water I became disorientated. The moving water made it had to balance, I took a line with deeper water, this coupled with the screaming crowd, I struggled not to fall in face first.

Photo: Kathryn Brindley

Photo: Kathryn Brindley

Chasing a Smiley Pacer

Grindleford Fell Race-River Crossing. Photo – Kathryn Brindley

Emerging from the water, smiley had 20 meters on me. I trailed her in, thinking that she would put a final spuit in any time. Alex Kashefi high fived me and shouted “go on Tideswellman “, Well, it was at this point that I spotted the finish line and a few of the Tidza crew were urging me on. I gave it everything I had and just crossed the line ahead of the Smiley Pacer. I felt bad for her really, but that’s the game, and she was very sporting about it too.  It was a rather unimpressive time of  58:13.  Finishing  394th out of 431.

Any decent runner would scoff at such a time, but I’m only a year into my running journey, and I feel the race went ok. I’m proud to have done it, proud to have represented my club and proud of the effort I put in, which has boosted my confidence no end.

Since then I’ve completed 2 more local fell races at Tideswell and at Hope. Next up is my chance to show that I really have improved. Hathersage Gala Fell Race was my first Fell race , exactly a year ago. So we’ll see if I’m any quicker this time. Fingers crossed.

On Stanage Edge

A Poem by Tideswellman. Feb 2015

On Stanage Edge, a great brown sea of Heather and Gorse, the moor, rushes up to Stanage Edge and stumbles over the many heads of the rock face.

The many heads of Stanage Edge

The earnest facade of timeless rock shines out her many colours, standing proud in the cold light of winter, ripe with the shape nature has provided.

Stanage Edge Colours

The wind whistles and whips round, and when she wants to be, is as warm as a country girl, who flirting, tickling here and there, planting warm breathy kisses upon the nape of your neck. Yet when her mood changes, she can be a wild and icy harridan, who could kill a man without pause for reflection, as she screams between the boulders.

Stanage Edge Boulders

Clouds, never far away, hang in the air, waiting to swoop and shroud the rocks in silky mist, forever changing, and rearranging the feel of the landscape.

Low Cloud on Stanage Edge

Here and there, Rusty brooks bring forth the life blood of the moor, Water, a murderous colour stained red with Peat. Like a gentle, liquid knife it slowly cuts through the moor and rock alike.

Stanage Brook

As ramblers struggle over boulders squelch in bright black mud, a Jurassic sound stalks them, the Grouse laugh like naughty children as they play hide and seek with worried, wary walkers. stopping, peering as they try to pinpoint the sound.
Walkers on Stanage Edge

Cuts and crags, nooks and caves call to people curious to know the moor, to try her, to own her, yet the scale of this fortress of wilderness swallows and humbles both man and beast, man cannot own this, nor digest this visual feast.

Nooks and Cranies stanage-gapRobin Hoods Cave - Stanage Edge

Climbers on StanageWith senses overwhelmed a spell is cast that compels the moorland guest to return for pilgrimages uncounted.

Stanage Edge will make you return again and again

If You Like this Post, Why not Link to it. With this code

On Stanage Edge by Tideswellman

————
Browse more of my Photos.

Ludds Church Walk

On occasion my friend and I manage to co-ordinate our busy lives for long enough to get out into the Peak District countryside.

A few weeks ago we had planned to go over to the Roaches, The day arrived and of course, typically, it was pouring with rain. We decided to brave the elements and head out anyway, and I was so pleased that we did.

Hen Cloud and the Roaches

Wirksworth to the Roaches

Drive from Wirksworth to the Roaches  (Click Link for Map)

We drove from Wirksworth, turned onto Via Gellia, and up to Newhaven, turning there and driving down to the Monyash/Crowdetcote turning.   From there, we went through to Longnor and then right across the moorland to Emerge on the A53 near the winking Man Pub.

From Longnor to the Roaches

From Longnor to the Roaches (Click Link for Map)

We turned left towards Leek, driving past the Ramshaw Rocks and the famous “Winking Man Rock”, (so called because the rock, which looks like a giant face that appears to wink at you when you drive past it.  After half a mile or so we turned right at the sign for Upper Hulme.

Turn off towards Upper hulme

For Upper Hulme  – turn right

Follow the road past the pub, down the hill and take a sharp right. In the dip there are a few houses a small waterfall and some industrial units.  Go past these and you’ll drive under the imposing outcrop of Hen Cloud.

Hen Cloud

Hen Cloud – It doesn’t really look like a Hen.

The Roaches

Path to the Roaches

A bit further on you’ll find some parking spaces and you can begin your walk.
We strolled though the mist, chatting away.

Staffordshire / Cheshire Borders

Staffordshire / Cheshire Borders

It’s good to just get out amongst the nature and walk. We could have driven a couple of miles up the road but would have missed, Buzzards, Kestrels, Horses, a young but sadly dead badger, a squashed Frog and a handsome Toad.

Juvenile Badger

Juvenile Badger – Not a mark on it.

As we walked on, we neared the woods leading down to Ludds Church.

Ludds Church - woods

Woods containing Ludds Church

The photo looks almost flat but the descent into the woods was hard on my knees. We walked down and down and the rain eased up. This walk was fun, but there was a lot of mud, we had to carefully pick our way though a very muddy waterlogged wood, all the paths were thick with deep mud, so a little creative weaving through the Silver Birch trees was needed. Normally though, “stay on the path, kids”.

Misty, muddy Woods

Misty, muddy Woods

Eventually we arrived at our destination. For those who don’t know what Ludds Church is, It’s a bloomin big chasm in the ground, you could easily miss it if you didn’t know it was there. Once you enter it, it’s a totally breathtaking micro-climate, like a little rocky gorge in a rainforest.

Ludds Church  – Click for slideshow

Ludds Church is a real hidden gem and somewhere that I’d recommend anyoneto visit. I’m annoyed at myself for not having been before.

The Green Man

A little blurry but do you see the Green Man?

IMG_7636 IMG_7639 IMG_7645 IMG_7651 On the way back to the car our nature trail continued. There were contorted trees, with wonderful branch formations. My guess is that they must have been mauled by extreme weather and then healed, leaving truly creepily formed branches.IMG_7660Then there were ancient Beech trees with exposed roots, again looking as though they had seen a changing environment and adapted to it.IMG_7950

 

 

Staffordshire Moorlands

Daws looking out over the Staffordshire countryside

On the way, back we were lucky enough to find this handsome looking toad, who was kind enough to pose for photos.

IMG_7664

IMG_7666

We were treated to arial displays from a Buzzard and a Kestrel.

Buzzard with vole

Buzzard with vole

Hovering Kestrel

Hovering Kestrel

Meanwhile, the sheep looked on.

Mooland Sheep

Moorland Sheep

please leave a comment

If you liked this blog, please consider leaving a comment. Perhaps I missed something, or maybe you have a question, let me know.

Stoney Middleton Fell Race 2014

Stoney Middleton Fell Race 2014 was the third race that I have missed through injury.
I can also say that whilst I’m gutted about not being able to run at the moment, I’m secretly happy that I didn’t have to run in the 30+ degree heat that we’ve been having this summer.

Whenever I’m not running, and can get to the race to support Tideswell RC, I take my camera along and try to snap team member and other runners in action. Sharing is caring and all that.

The mother of all Hills

I thought I’d check out the route before the race kicked off, as I wasn’t familiar with the route and fancied finding a good vantage point to take pictures.

The route looks fairly gentle to begin with, that is until you hit Stoney Middleton “High St”, I’m sure it got it’s name because, well, it’s high, very bloody high.

My little car, found it tough going so bing a frail human being huffing and puffing up it in the beating sun would be pretty tough going.

Running Groups Well Represented

The race itself started on Stoney Middleton Playing fields. All the runners started arriving and there were plenty of running clubs represented. The ones I knew were,

  • Tideswell RC
  • Buxton RC
  • Goyt Valley Striders
  • Steel City Striders
  • Fat Boys
  • Totley
  • Ripley
  • Matlock
  • Sheffield
  • Dark Peak

A few of the teams were kind enough to let me take pics of them before the race.

The Race got underway from between the football goalposts.

Runners line up at Stoney Fell Race

Lining up

Stoney Fell Race Starts

The race begins

A quick loop up the length of the field and down to the style to exit the field. Runners started off quick, to be first over the stile and to get a bit of a start for that hill.

runners at Stoney Middleton

Runners rush to reach the 1st stile

Due to the high number of runners though, the race was at a standstill within a minute as there was a near instant bottleneck at the narrow stile.

Bottleneck at Stile

Bottleneck at Stile

This part was the only negative for me, but these things happen, and without issues like this, races would have nothing to improve on in coming years.

Within minutes, all the runners were off up the main road and heading toward “The Hill of Doom”. God pity their souls.

Being crocked, I wandered up the path and over the nearby fields to find a couple of decent vantage points for photos. Eventually I settled on a nice spot down in a cool Valley just before the runners had their final ascent. I had a friendly marshal for company, and proceeded to prattle away to her whilst we waited for the pack to arrive.

Sadly, the pics were not the best, I must have had the camera on the wrong setting, but they are passable. So here they are.

Please leave a comment.

All pics are free to use and download, but do please credit me “Tideswellman” by linking back to this post.

Related Links

* All the photos can be found on my flickr Gallery here.

* Fell Running Fox – Stoney Fell Race Blog

Hathersage Fell Race 2014

I entered my first Fell Race last night. It was a really hard route, but I managed to finish and I wasn’t last. I had previously only run the Chatsworth 10k, and the Tideswell Inter Inns Run. (5k). I was a bit nervous about doing a fell to be honest, because I’ve been suffering from Shin Splints for a while now, and didn’t think they could take it.  The shins held out fine though, in fact I’d say the Fell race was LESS painful than a full road run.

I’m completely amazed at how good every other runner is though.  Big or small, old or young, there are some seriously dedicated runners out there, and I salute you all.

 

The Hathersage Gala Fell race was always going to be tough, knowing the terrain around there. I enjoy walking in that part of the Peak, so knew it would be challenging.

Tideswell RC at Hathersage Fell Race


All photos borrowed from Facebook with thanks to Accelerate, Andrew Watkins & Kathryn Brindley.

I finished right near the back, but that’s fine for now. Thanks go to Nigel Jeff, who was spotting myself and Collette, and to Ben Brindley, who, running back, spurred me on for the last mile, and helped me attain a pretty fast sprint finish (According to Strava). Happy days indeed, I can’t wait for more races now.

Hathersage Gala Fell Race Results

See the HatherSage Fell Race 2014 Results Page.

Accelerate – Facebook Gallery of the Whole Race