A very lot of late summer racing!

As the summer holidays draw to a close, and the evenings get a little darker a little earlier, and the children head back to school (yay!), the Harriers’ summer of racing continues…..

Eyam (courtesy of Rachel B.)

Well I did my first ever Fell Race on Tues night and it certainly won’t be the last! There were 4 GDHs who did the race in the end, should have been 9 of us but others bailed for different reasons. We all really enjoyed it and will certainly be up for running it again! We were most surprised to see Tim Crookes there seen as he had a funny turn only days before the race! But in true GDH style he still smashed it in 1.03.06!

Paul Skuse suggested we do a little warm up recce of the route to start with and was off like a shot up the first hill leaving Tim and I for dust! We made our way to the start as Paul kept on going up that hill! The route itself was tough in parts especially the treacherous woods at the end! And I found it frustrating a couple of times having to queue at different stiles which must have added 4/5 mins onto my time! I am sure the faster people at the front didn’t have to queue!

  • Paul Skuse came 19th overall out of the GDH coming in at 49.14! Absolutely fantastic effort! 
  • Nick Ham came in 127th place with a time of 1.01.59
  • Tim Crookes as already mentioned was 3rd fastest and came in 139th place. 
  • Followed by me in 4th place with a time of 1.13.17 coming in 196th place. 

I was convinced that the guys would be on their 5th pint by the time I’d finished my race! But in true GDH style they were all cheering me on across the finishing line!  Also thanks to Tim’s wife Sue for being designated bag holder and chief photographer! Paul and I enjoyed a lovely hotdog afterwards but I was gutted not to have a pint as the queue was so big! I’d never met Paul or Tim prior to this race but as usual like with all GDH members I’ve met they made me feel welcome and I can’t wait to do another race with them!

Longshaw Sheepdog Trials Fell Race ( from the perspective of Paul S.)

Grabbing the last few places, me, Burners and Ironman (looking like the cast of Cocoon) donned our vests and ran our hearts out at the Longshaw Sheepdog Trials fell race. It wasn’t all plain siling. The lead group went the wrong way ( without the marshal noticing/commenting) only a few hundred yards from the start line. Fortunately, this didn’t really affect any of us. 

It’s a belting course.  In Burners words, it’s very disruptive – it was deffo a route that suited the goat footed amongst us. A lot of it was bounding over stones/boulders and making the most of the grassy runnable bits when they appeared. You had to keep your eyes open all the time, not only for trip hazards but also for route markings as there were a couple of “Which way?” moments on route. It was flagged but sometimes they were easy to miss when all you wanted to look at was the ground for easiest route forward. 

The finish was a bit of a beast. When goosed, a gradual uphill longish sprint through tussocky grass isnt the easiest. But what a route. It had a little bit of everything in one of the prettiest parts of the Peaks. Add to that a beer tent at the finish and you’ve got yourself a top morning’s racing. No idea about results but we all finished with race face grimaces that turned to smiles once over the line.

Longshaw Sheepdog Trials Fell Race (from the perspective of Andy B.)

With a limited field of 200 places, and a bit of prodding from Mr Skuse, myself and Mr Oates bagged the last remaining places, and set off  just after 9 on Saturday to get over to Hathersage, the main task clearly to complete the race before the sheep herding began but cryptically Mr Skuse mentioned we had some herding of our own to do. Nat had mentioned a friend was running too, and would need a lift back to Glossop. Mr Skuse didn’t know his name, but thought he might have raced with him a while back, and anyway he just needed to look out for 3 lads with blue and orange vests. There looked like an outside chance of that coming off.

Plenty of time for a warm up before the 10:30 start, and a very sociable atmosphere developed with our fellow racers, while the midges had a good bite on any exposed skin. No kit needed and we could see the top of Higgar Tor. We were finally piped off to the sound of a dog whistle and hit the fell. Mr Skuse hard charging at the front, with me and Mr Oates deciding the last third of the pack was a suitable place to start. The initial hill section was very runnable, with descents down ever narrowing paths with boulders to dive off, general view of the fast guys you couldn’t just let go, so fairly technical but softish landings if you got it wrong into the bracken. 

Mr Skuse soon found he was racing against a guy from Fulham RC, Andy Han, who had caught a train at 5.30 from London, makes you glad you’re local! it turned out this was Nats’ mate, so Skuse had already herded the right man. They continued to battle it out across the ridge back from Higgar Tor and then down off Mill Stone Edge crossing the road for the final dash across Lawrence Field without stopping at the Ice Cream Van. The Skuse managed to keep Andy at bay crossing the line 10 seconds ahead of him with a very creditable 20th place.

Meanwhile, Mr Oates’s marathon training miles hadn’t loaded his legs too much, and he moved deeper into the pack finishing a good 112 overall. I decided on a steadier pace and wondered just how the top guys had come through the last section of boulders and trees before the Lawrencefield crossing. At one point I had to grab onto a tree root like a handrail to descend off a suspended block a few feet off the ground. I came in at 145th.

This is a great route with a real mix of terrain, open fell, hand to hand climbing up to Higgar  and fast but obstacle laden descents that disrupt your rhythm, excellent entertainment whether your at the front or the back. Highly recommended race for next year.

Ring of Fire (courtesy of Dan S.)

The chance of getting many words out of me are slim, but here’s a summary of the Ring of Fire – a 135 mile route around Anglesey largely following the coastal path. I’d entered it during lockdown to try and get a race in the calendar and it was ages away, but then suddenly it wasn’t ages away and it was time to get going! Here was the schedule:

  • Day 1 – 35.7 miles (start 1pm)
  • Day 2 – 65.9 miles (start 6am)
  • Day 3 – 35.7 miles (start 6am)

What a beautiful route. I’ve never covered so much varying terrain; road, trail, rocky ascents, fine sand (several emptying shoes out moments), pebble beaches, wooden planks/bridges above the water. Saw a few red squirrels, made a load of new ultrarunning friends and far exceeded any of my expectations in actually completing it and also with a combined time of just over 29 hours. Brilliant race! Thanks so much to Immy Trinder for ferrying me about across the island multiple times!

Great Manchester Children’s Hospital 10k  (courtesy of Guy R.) 

Completely forgot I entered this one and was about as unprepared as you can be, with all my focus on my October marathons.  Still turned up on a sunny morning at Pennington Flash to have a go. Quite a small field, and I could tell straight away not many fast lads were there, which was confirmed when we were called to edge up closer to the start line and most people edged backwards leaving me on the front row of the grid. 

Quite a flat course but lots of loose dusty sections so my road shoes struggled to get traction at times, but from the start I was in the top 10 and could see all but the leading 2 just up ahead of me. Couldn’t quite get into top gear, just not done enough speedwork but still did enough for a PB in 42:12 and 8th place, and I also won my age category which is a first for me. Quite encouraged by that, and I’m sure on roads I’d manage a faster pace without much bother. 

Bullock Smithy

There was a lot of blue and orange on show at the Bullock Smithy this weekend and, what’s more, Team GDH won the Windgather Trophy for the first time ever for being the fastest team!

The full results are not up yet however, based on reports from our roving reporters and Facebook commentary, Steve C. appears to have stormed round, finishing in 4th place, Pete W. decided that 56 miles of Peak District was not far enough and added a few more and there are smiling post-finish pictures of Ian, Luke, Nick and Wioleta.   Wioleta also sent in the following report….

It was amazing to see what a human’s mind and body is capable of (and that’s nowhere near the limit yet so watch this space).  56 miles and 2500 metres of elevation and somehow most of us had a few more miles recorded. It’s such a great challenge not only for the body but also for the mind to run this distance and to do it through the night and navigate on your own.

I think what really helped me to do well is: having done a few races with half of the distance of BS and more elevation, hours on the feet in training, training my eating, eating more carbs in a liquid form (like tailwind and gels), calculating the number of carbs for every hour in advance, knowing the number of carbs in my food and on checkpoints. Having it all planned what I eat and not relying on the checkpoints, not waiting an hour but eating all the time, especially when going up the hills. Also sticking to my own pace all the time and really enjoying the experience. Plus very positive self-talk, even when I was running around in the circle in the middle of the night in the forest or on the golf course trying to find the right way, or at least a gate, instead of getting annoyed with myself, I’ve tried to find other things to be happy about. I thought that it’s great that I can still run and that I’m not scared of running through the night (although one wooden rabbit lit up with my torch and scared me a bit and when the bench looked like a big angry dog 😬,  I must have been tired by then). Stopping to put the plasters over my blisters helped tremendously and definitely saved me time in the long run as I was able to run more comfortably after that and perhaps avoided another infection :P)

What I could do better: find shoes that fit really well (because none of my shoes were suitable for this distance, I bought new pair and due to ankle injury didn’t have enough time to break them in so my foot was covered in blisters (which never really happened to me before). Sounds like I need another pair of running shoes then 🤣 . One of my water bottles burst just before the race (a great job I’ve had two). Someone gave me a little plastic bottle but this is something I never expected that may even happen. Recce the course, due to other races and then the injury I only managed to recce a small part of it and by relying on technology and trusting that the lines that organisers saved on the map are the exact lines, I ended up in a massive bog 😂).

This was my kind of weekend for sure  When ships, cows and bunnies didn’t want to talk to me anymore I recorded a short video so you can see what that real side of Bullock Smithy  https://youtu.be/XR3-t4Nq4b4.

Gritstone Grind (courtesy of Marie W.)

So, after running the Dig Deep 30 last week,  today I have done the Gritstone grind. We were bussed from Disley to Kidsgrove & had to make our way back on foot following the Gritstone trail. The route took us up The Cloud, Tegg’s nose & White Nancy to name a few climbs. It was a long, hot day & I managed to not make too many nav errors meaning I actually did just the 35 miles (unlike last week when I did a few bonus miles!!). It’s a great route that’s way marked the whole way…..& the 3 checkpoints were very well stocked with lots of options (I know that’s vital to lots of people 😂). Apart from the heat, the only downside was my armpits getting bitten by ants in the last 2 miles. Excellent day out & I’d definitely recommend it. Completion time…about 9hrs 20mins

Other Racing news gleaned from FB…

  • Southport 10k:  Donna B’s GDH top had its maiden race this morning, completing the Southport Seaside 10k in 52:34.
  • Bleaklow Blitz: A new event for 2021 which, unsurprisingly, attracted a number of harriers for a sunny jaunt through our local heathery hills. 

Other Stuff

  • Virtual Champs: September’s virtual champs race is a local classic: The Shelf Moor fell race route out from the turning circle up James Thorn, Higher Shelf Stones and back around Dog Rock and decending home.  As this is back on the fells, it must be run in minimum of pairs! Details on the route can be found here https://glossopdaleharriers.wordpress.com/…/shelf-moor…/
  • Cross Country:  it is nearly that time of year again so, if you fancy a bit of type 2 winter running fun, please check out the various posts about signing up for the South East Lancs and/ or the Manchester XC leagues.

Please let us know about your running-related antics at gdhweeklyreports@gmail.com.  We love to hear about what you have been up to (and it makes writing these weekly reports a whole lot easier). Have a good week!

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