Fell Running For Rookies

29th March – Dovedale. By Nicola Pennington

After my rather cocky arrogant, “ I can run up any hills without the need for a recce, compass or map” attitude and subsequent disastrous Winter Tour of Bradwell, I thought it best that if I was to continue this fell running lark I’d better get some training in before I find myself stuck on a hill crying again.

Following a post on GDH, I signed up for the Fell Running for Rookies public event hosted by Peak Running taking place at Dovedale and dragged my mate Wayne from HRC along to direct me there.

We were met by Andy from Peak Running and Kate from Harrier Run Free who ran through the schedule.  The plan being to teach us rookies how to fell walk up hills and run downhill like a loon safely and confidently. We were to follow the Ilam fell race, an A.S category fell run, however due to the Ministry of Defence deciding to have day out shooting practice, Andy modified it slightly so we wouldn’t get shot at and warned us to avoid the red flags and not to stand about for a long time….

The training started out with walking uphill. We were shown the hands-on thighs technique but also the hands behind the back, like a thoughtful teacher perusing their students. This was rather enlightening as I had wondered why Alison Holt had walked uphills with her hands behind her back at the Hit the Trail. I just thought she was contemplating race tactics! Who knew…… Andy also showed us how to run uphill with little strides, using hip, knee and ankle and Ive got to say I found it so much easier than what I had been doing, eg. trying to get to the top as quickly as possible and collapsing halfway up.

After being shown how to slalom down a hill, we passed by the flooded Dovedale steppingstones and took on Thorpe Cloud, 1000 feet ascent of a really pointy hill. While the sun shone down at the bottom, the further higher we got the winds became stronger and in parts I found it difficult to get up.  At the top Andy directed me and Wayne where to go on the descent and left us to run like loons downhill to the sounds of gunfire in the background. I’ve got to say I really enjoyed this. The guns certainly made me run faster. Up another hill, then as we were about to descend the clouds came down and hail the size of marbles started hitting us at some speed. It amazed me how quickly the weather could change, and it was full speed ahead to get to the bottom and find some shelter. A quick run back to the car park and Ilam fell route completed.

Andy and Kate were so knowledgeable, and I learnt so much from them. Not only did they cover how to climb hills safely but also told us FRA kit regs, fell race cats and some basic navigation All this for £8.70 with 70 pence going to the Peak District Foundation. A brilliant day out and a must for anyone who like me is cocky enough to think they can run a fell race without knowing the local area, unable to read a map or tell North from South.

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