TOTAL WIPEOUT!… it’s the weekend report!

Undeterred by the continual downpour turning the hills into a veritable extreme obstacle course this weekend, Harriers have been falling on their backsides up and down the country today, and not a banana skin in sight!

Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay

Oh my, what a brilliant day this was! After a week of quite frankly UTTER CHAOS with horrendous forecasts and talk of the “bad weather route” being brought in, we arrived in Patterdale with a full team and raring to go. The first challenge, before dealing with any mountains, was to find John Pollard. He had attempted to phone me with an update on his whereabouts, but with zero signal and a field full of waterproof-clad fell runners to search in, the race was on to find him before the start of the actual race, and to come up with a logistics plan B in the meantime! Thankfully, after asking the organisers to put an announcement out on the tannoy, “will John Pollard of Glossopdale Harriers please come to race control” was broadcast across the field, and he was located within seconds, phew!

The start was a “blink and you’ll miss it” affair. Many runners had barely made it to the start line before a lo-fi “5-4-3-2-1… GO!” was shouted, and Lance Hamilton-Griffiths and Wioleta Wydrych were off on leg 1. They whizzed into Lower Hartsop in 57:09, buzzing with excitement from bum-sliding down the long, grassy descent.

Rick Steckles and Paul Skuse were off next on leg 2. We don’t know much about what happened, other than a lot of clag, possibly some hail, and some more treacherous descents to deal with. We didn’t spot them dropping into Kirkstone until they were virtually over the line, but thankfully we were ready and waiting for a swift changeover.

Mark Harrison and myself were out next on leg 3, so this is the one I know the most about, but really, it can be described in a single word… GREASY! It started with a steep climb up Red Screes, and I was very glad when Mark got to the crest of the hill and let me know that we’d nearly reached the top! Conditions on the top were very changeable, but underfoot it was continually logged with surface water, making descending quite exciting, and I eventually lost count of the number of times I fell over. We descended well though, making up a few places on our way into Sykeside, just in time to set Tim and Chris off a couple of minutes before the mass start.

In their traditional style, Tim Budd and Chris Webb stormed around leg 4, sweeping up a whopping 17 places along the way, and putting us into 40th position overall, 27th in the Open category.

There are lots of thank yous to say for this one. Firstly, Ian and I would like to thank everyone who took part in the selection process for the team. There has been loads of positive feedback on this which means it’s something that we can look at doing again for next year!

Secondly, thanks to the team – Lance, Wiola, Rick, Skuse, Mark, Tim and Chris – for coming along and giving it your all! It was a challenging day to be out, but there were lots of smiles along with it.

An extra thanks to Wiola and Rick, who both stepped in earlier this week when Chris J and Chris S unfortunately both had to withdraw due to injuries, and also for driving us all there and back!

And last but most certainly not least, thank you to John Pollard for transporting us to and from the starts and ends of the various legs. Without this support, the logistics would have been a nightmare to organise, and it was so kind of him to give up a big chunk of his day to ferry us all around. Thank you John!

Limestone Way – Pete Tomlin

Not satisfied with the natural obstacles of the terrain and weather, Pete Tomlin was out picking fights with pedestrians and trains today on the Limestone Way!

This was another race I’d signed up for AGES ago, the Limestone Way Half Ultra. So that’s half the ultra that is on the same day, not a half marathon. 17 miles from Monyash to Hope. 

Let’s just say I approached this one with a heavy dollop of complacency. I’d run this distance before, in fact I’d run much more than this distance before, so I could definitely do it. It didn’t need any extra training right?! Maybe not, but it would have been good if I’d kept up some sense of consistency in my running, and you know some of that strength work and yoga that everyone talks about. But actually I’ve been as inconsistent as you can get since July. And I paid for it.

The route is awesome and treacherous in equal parts. Stunning views across the White Peak, even a rainbow across Hope Valley. Partnered with the slippy limestone which was doing its best to kill me. In parts it actually took longer to descend than it did climb a hill. But on the whole, there was a lot of thinking ‘wow this is nice’.

I had my usual dip in energy around mile ten which seemed to be solved by the snacks at the checkpoint in Peak Forest. This was short lived as the climb out towards Castleton was brutal followed by a slip fest into town. But I’d settled into a trot, so all was good, or so I thought. In fact it was in Castleton was where I totally lost it and my complacency caught up with me. I was cramping up big time, swearing at pedestrians, and nearly got ran over by a train. I managed to limp my way across the finish line with a time of 3hrs 35mins. Longer than the hoped for 3 hours. But I’ve learnt a few valuable lessons, one of them being that there’s no way in hell I’m doing the October champs race! 


Lakeland Trails Coniston 15k – John Pollard

Before coming along to support us in soggy Patterdale today, John was out racing in Coniston, falling down some hills of his own!

I wasn’t going to make much of a report on this but a couple of things happened that I wanted to remark on.

 It was the third consecutive weekend I’ve done a trail race here, and they’ve all been different and all had different weather, which can make them more interesting or challenging or just more enjoyable. This one ranked high because it’s a good varied route, with elements of a fell race and some technical bits to take on, and because the weather was so bloody wet it posed a different challenge!

But firstly the disappointing thing. A small thing, but a telling thing. This was before the race and at registration, where I was doing the safety pin thing with my number. Just chatting to a couple of the volunteers off at the side of the reg table. Eyes were raised as the wind was whipping up in their tent and the rain was lashing hard again…and I was thinking how glad I was I had my newly purchased inov8 polartec mittens to keep my hands warm on the run. (I’m not an inov8 ambassador btw, you may be confusing me with Damian Hall).

Anyway, I was feeling quite smug and snug and finishing pinning my number I reached for the said mittens…and they were gone….I thought they must be on the floor or something, but no, some light-figured sonofabitch had had the nerve to lift them from under my nose! The registration ladies tried to help and suggested “perhaps you have them in a pocket or something” but no it was a fact, somebody of low morals and possibly cold hands, had seized a momentary opportunity to get their hands inside my thermals. £35 you can pay for these at Pete Bland’s with no discount, top of the range mitts, and I was looking forward to being inseparable from them during the long winter months. Alas, it was not to be.

The moral of this episode? Several may be drawn but I’d say that it shows the moral fibre of a competitor at a Lakeland trail event is not of the same calibre as at your common or garden fell race, where the honesty and camaraderie of the fell community would not entertain such moral turpitude, which is surprising as half the competitors at Trails arrive in their Range Rovers. Or am I over-reacting?! Anyhow, the money is meaningless, it’s the meanness and brazenness of the act that honestly shocked me. Fortunately, Matt Bland was there with his van of goodies and later post-race I bought a replacement pair at a generous PBland discount, as I gave Matt the sob story too. And I could see I might be glad of them at the Hodgson Brothers relay the next day, as the Lakes weather was growing more biblical by the hour.

And so to the weather which we endured for the 15k run up from Torver, through Coniston and up into the Coppermines valley, where it can be a tad wet with all the water-courses, streams and old mining channels flowing down from on high. This was of deluge proportions, but not that much of an impediment if you didn’t mind splashing through all the dark muddy pools and crossing the rocky streams without really knowing where your feet are planting. Survival and not always reckless – progress is the mode more often adopted by trail runners – so it was my best chance to put a bit of daylight between myself and the gaggle of guys and gals I was close to. So I abandoned caution, and after negotiating the rocky flanks of The Bell and hit Walna Scar Road, I careered down the greasy green grass paths threading through the bracken down to Banishead Quarry, without a care in the world.

Except they were VERY greasy and very slippy, with water pouring underfoot, so it was very hard to stay on your feet if you went at any speed, and sure enough I soon lost contact with the ground until my head, well the back of my skull, thudded into the wet earth. I thought I would be knocked out such was the force of the fall, taking it all on my head, but apart from the shock I seemed more or less unscathed and after a couple of kind fellow runners stopped to check me over I continued on down. There was more of this type of hazard further on as the trails snaked down to Coniston water itself, and I fell again, but I was immune to risk by now and carried on to the finish a few miles along the shore, stopping only to face-plant in a deep water-filled ditch we crossed 300 metres from the finish funnel.

Quite an eventful run, but nothing really in comparison with what the GDH Hodgson Brothers Relay team endured the next day (when I am actually finishing writing this after returning from my support role) on their four legs in and out of Patterdale across Hartsop, High Street, Kirkstone, and Red Screes and Dovedale etc…I hope one or two of them can tell the tales of like 25mph bum slides down a 45 degree greasy grass gradient oiled by constant rain (this was the baptism of fire…or water, in relay running for Wioleta and Lance H G). They were both hyper-ventilating after the thrill of their final crazy exhilarating descent on leg 1!

There were other heroic efforts today, but everyone came back in one piece and had enjoyed fierce competition from other clubs and the elements.

A great event with everyone contributing hugely and reward for Immy’s great effort in conquering the logistics and getting the team out there!

New Glossop Fell Race – Ian Crutchley

Captain C led a group of fearless Harriers around the New Glossop Fell Race today – club champs race for October. There don’t appear to be any tales of people falling over though. This makes me sceptical, but see what you think for yourselves…

Although lots of people will be doing this route throughout October, I reckon this group effort is more than worth its mention in the weekly report.  Octobers Monthly Mashup saw an impressive 12 Harriers complete NGFR in the first weekend.  In no order, we had Cheryl Stitt, Rachel Walton, Charmayne Brierley, Rachel Boorer May, Alison Holt, Rebecca Ashworth, Amanda Holtey, Kate Bowden, Adele Metcalfe, Sue Clapham, Rob Murphy and Ian Crutchley. 

Although Ive done the route before, I couldn’t avoid being reminded by it constantly, that it is quite hard.  In some places in fact, really rather hard indeed.  And the weather, whilst it started off sunny as far as Alport Bridge, it was windy, and the odd mild squall as we approached Blackden Clough reminded us that the weather will fall apart at any moment, as the forecast showed it would.  Blackden Cough was about the worst point, a slow and technical climb, raining, wet and muddy, brook in full flow.  We were kind of dreading the top because it really seemed that’s where the weather would really hit us,  But for all its blust and noise, we timed it perfectly, and we emerged into sunshine!  So we ended up, not only getting round in good spirits, but also, Im pleased to say, in a rather business-like and uneventful fashion.  The last few miles were tough on us all, and the weather did finally collapse on us as we descended Doctors Gate to the end, with heavy rain and even some thunder and lightning, which seemed much closer than you’d like.  But we were all but done by then, and we cruised to the turning circle unscathed.  A massive well done and Thanks to everyone that got around today! 

Thanks to Lins Palmer too, who although recovering from an injury, accompanied our merry band as far as James Thorn.

Chelly Chase – Nick Ham

Nick Ham also appears not to have fallen over today, but he did get slightly lost, so I’ll let him have that one!

Short runs for me this weekend; I’m saving myself for next Saturdays’ Round Rotherham. Woodbank parkrun yesterday served as the warmer for today’s Chelmorton Chase (Chelly Chase for short). I’d never done this one before and I wasn’t sure it was going ahead since I’d had no acknowledgement for my preregistration, and social media on the subject was non-existent, save for my question on the FRA forum, which also got no response. Anyway, when I turned up (too early) at Chelmorton, my fears of having to return home unfulfilled disappeared because marshals and signage were in evidence.

I was welcomed to registration by a female whirlwind of enthusiasm and excitement who I assumed to be the organiser. She was dressed in summery floral attire and large-brimmed sun hat to raise the feel-good vibe even further. She was quite brilliant. I was surprised to learn that next year would be the race’s 25th anniversary, yet I’d hardly heard of it. I was less surprised to learn that they only had 12 entrants when the 11:30 start arrived.

I had spotted some speed merchants among the small but perfectly-formed throng. I expected to be a tail-end finisher. Before we were set off, the photographer, having taken photos of the start line, set off on his trail bike to take more photos out on the course, while an open-topped car waited to drive up the lane to show the front-runners the way to the first turn-off. (The same car would be waiting on the long road run-in to the finish.)

Finally we were off and my inadequacy in the running department hit home within seconds when the aforementioned speed merchants shot off at indecent speed up the hill out of the village. I ‘ran’ valiantly in their receding wake until the first marshal at the right fork onto the track, at which point I couldn’t do it any longer. I walked the rest of the way until topping out into the rolling fields with their limestone walls.

I just about had the back-marker of the main group in sight, who was dressed rather inconveniently in black. However, by the time I arrived at an exit stile onto a track, I couldn’t see him any longer. I expected to see one of the promised ‘marshals at every turn’ to point the way but there was no-one. I looked left and saw an arrow on the gate. With a tinge of misgiving I turned left to follow it. I now recognised the route of the White Peak Walk, which descends to and crosses the A6. I continued with increasing misgivings, looking back and waiting for a Steel City Strider and Pennine Fellrunner to catch up. They hadn’t done the race before either; they were just following me. Oh dear. I feared I had led them astray. Another runner came down, who it turned out was running an Ultramarathon. I knew it! I’d been following their arrows! We turned around to recross the A6 (I knew we shouldn’t have to cross that on a fell race) and climbed the track back up to the top of the hill and the gate I shouldn’t have gone through. Looking left there was another step stile across the track which I’d missed but should have taken. That’s why there was no marshal then: no turn, no marshal, no lighty, no likey (now you know what I used to watch).

Now back on the path of righteousness with nearly 1.5 extra miles and plenty of extra climb in the legs, we ran as fast as we could to rescue the subsequent marshals from their undoubted anguish over what could be taking the tail-enders so long. I felt nostalgic when we hit the road and track to the location of the Chelmorton checkpoint on the Bullock Smithy Hike. It had been a month and it was a lot colder and wetter now. Then it was a sharp right turn on the lane back to Chelmorton. A rainbow arch guided us on the final descent to the village. As the finish came into view, loud cheers and whoops rose from the organiser (by ‘eck she is good) to force that extra bit of effort to the line. It had taken me 1:05:50 to complete those 5-going-on-6.5 miles. Amazingly, most of the runners waited for us to finish so they could have a proper prize presentation, which was dashed impressive I have to say. The winners got a personalised framed certificated with their name and photo taken out on the course – a brilliant memento, I thought. They also got a bottle of fizz.

All finishers got an anonymous medal and, thanks to the low turn-out, we got a spot prize as well. I’ll take my bottle of fizz as a consolation prize for nearly finishing last. Although mostly a trail race, this one has lodged itself in my memory as one to return to. At least I can be sure of a PB (they’re like hen’s teeth, you know).

London Marathon – Ian Jackson

I’ve not had a report, but word on the street has it that Ian Jackson completed the London Marathon today in a personal best of 4 hours 15 minutes. Great running Ian!

Coming up!

Tomorrow (Monday 4th) at 7pm, we have the brilliant opportunity to spend some time with Rupert Bonington from Mountain Fuel, answering all of your nutrition questions! I’ll post the Zoom link in the group tomorrow, or you can also get it from the Facebook event here:

So that’s it, another week in the life of Glossopdale! Don’t forget to keep sending your reports into, we love hearing what you’ve been up to!

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