“Darker than it was” Weekly Report

Is it time to stop saying “I can’t believe how dark it is?!” at 5pm yet? That doesn’t deter us Harriers though, it was months after joining the club before I knew what anyone looked like, because all I saw was rain jackets, mud and dazzling headtorches.

What have the Harriers been up to on this glorious weekend? Well it’s XC season for a start, so let’s start there.

XC: Sherdley Park

Here’s Chris Webb‘s report and some pics with some quality gurning:

The league has resurrected an old venue for the 2nd match of the season; only David Chrystie-Lowe had raced at Sherdley Park in St Helens before.  After some issues at the start resulting in a slight delay to the women’s race and Joanne and Charmaine rifling through my bag for their numbers (!) they were off on 2 long and 1 short lap around an undulating course.  There was a ‘bit’ of mud as the course snaked its way back and forth across the depression in the middle of the park creating the hills (by cross country, not fell, standards) and hopefully favouring Glossopdale legs more than the flat course of Wythenshawe.  I clocked Joanne and Charmaine mid-race and both were running well, not far apart, but they end up coming in side-by-side in what was a solid performance for their first outing of the season.  It was then the turn of the men and a relatively strong group of 6 of us toed the line in a very strong field.  I have no idea how the race played out but based on cool down snippets it appears Stefan and Skuse had a good old battle with Stefan coming out on top by a mere 10 seconds.  Jamie is coming back into a bit of fitness and had a much better run than in match 1, expect him to continue to improve over the course of the winter.  I didn’t get to chat to David C-L at the end, despite what looked to be a strong run I suspect he’ll be looking to improve on his 7th in the V60s after coming 4th in match 1 – watch out for him at match 3!  Finally Joshua Southall made his xc debut having an excellent run hunting me down; I suspect his combination of strength and speed will be well-suited to this style of racing, I expect to see him get better and better as the season goes on.  The next race is at Kenworthy Woods on Saturday 4th December, hopefully we’ll get a few more of us down there to blast round the University Playing fields and woodland trails. 

Here’s a bonus report from Paul Skuse too:

A good handful of GDH( Me, DCL, Josh, Jamie, Stefan, Webb Jo and Charmayne) went over to St Helens for the latest match in the MACCL. Getting parked up was a nightmare and we debussed DCL’s car to get to the start line, leaving poor David in a never-ending line of traffic (he insisted we go). Jo and Charmayne had a similar experience and were numbering up on the start line. Thankfully David made it to the start in time.  The course has been best described to me as a mouse running on corrugated iron so I’ll stick with that. It was loopy, undulating and decidedly slick underfoot. Several cars needed a push to escape the mud at the end. The field was huge, or at least felt that way to me.  I think results are already posted but I can’t find the link. It was ace seeing Josh at his first XC. That lad is a natural. I think it’s fair to say most of us felt we are improving over the weeks. Let’s hope things stay that way. Some top pics have also been posted.

Senior Women

Joanne Brack – 42:37, 221st place (14th FV55)

Charmaine Brierley – 42:37, 222nd place (30th FV50)

Senior Men

Chris Webb – 36:36, 67th place (10th MV40)

Joshua Southall – 38:15, 104th place

Stefan Bramwell – 39:02, 129th place (14th MV45)

Paul Skuse – 39:12, 134th place (15th MV45)

Jamie Helmer – 42:48, 236th place (35th MV45)

David Chrystie-Lowe – 46:40, 348th place (7th MV60)

Full provisional results here: https://www.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=20223&RId=33&EId=4

Escape from Meriden

Didn’t people used to get sent to Coventry? Well conversely, Escape from Meriden is all about getting away from it. Here is the report from Marie Williamson:

For anyone who doesn’t know about the escape, its an event that starts at midnight in Meriden. There’s no route to follow. You find your own way. The idea is to get as far from Meriden as you can in 24 hours & the mileage is taken as the crow flies. You can go solo, in pairs or even chained pairs & get given a lovely boiler suit to wear (this year’s was orangey red). My plan was to get to 60 miles ATCF.

I managed to get a 20 minute nap Friday afternoon & was hoping to sleep on the train (no such luck!!). Because of covid, we weren’t allowed to wait in the registration hall so I placed myself on a bench on Meriden Green. Again, hoping for a sneaky nap which didn’t happen. The race started way past my bedtime  but I, strangely, didn’t feel tired 

I’d looked at the map & at Will Mather’s route from his escape a few years ago. Although running on canal towpaths in the dark didn’t appeal I decided to go with it anyway. I’d broken the route into 6 sections.

#1 A 10 mile road section that takes you to the canal. Nice quiet roads & quite a few escapees had chosen this route, so I wasn’t alone. A couple of car occupants shouted encouragement as they passed. This is where I realised I’m not a fan of going over bridges in the dark. Freaked out slightly & sped up going over a few!

#2 Onto the canal for 11 miles. I’d imagined I’d hate this bit but I actually loved it. Being a bit clumsy, I walked a far bit where the path came too close to the water or rocky, tree rooty, trip hazardy. I didn’t fancy ending up in the water in the dark, as much a I love a chilly dip! There was a section where it seemed to get extra dark, which was a bit eerie at first. I think it was where the ‘danger zone’ is on the maps. I did see a couple of other runners along here. A lady & I leap frogged (where I passed as she stopped to faff & she past again because I was walking) for a while & could occasionally see lights behind me in the distance. 

#3 A few miles on A38 before dropping back onto another canal. I think it was here that my fellow escapees headed off a different way to me. So I was going solo from now on. The road section here was where I felt most vulnerable for the whole run. The road was extremely busy & I was glad to get back off it & onto the canal…for a while. Daylight came & I was starting to flag. I pulled out my cheese sarnie, said hello to a few early dog walkers & shuffled around my bag contents (that had weirdly started digging into my back). I was relieved when this section finished & glad to get off the canal but I’d been blessed by the sighting of a kingfisher just before the end. I took off my boiler suit as I was starting to get too hot & headed to Nisa for a brew.

#4 Burton-upon-Trent to Ashbourne -16.5 mile Road section. I took a slight detour into Tutbury to use an actual toilet & have a bit of a wash. It’s amazing how much better a non salty face makes you feel! Shortly after, I passed a sign saying I’d entered Derbyshire. I was in a very happy place. Soon to be spoilt by the fact that Derbyshire is bloody hilly. I’d chosen to go up back lanes rather than the A515 where it would have been busy. While I was going up one of the many hills, I did wonder how much flatter the main road may have been. I tripped over my sticks & ended up on the floor (did I mention I was clumsy?). I winded myself slightly & checked for blood. Nothing appearing through my clothes. You’ll be reet…plod on. Then I stumbled across what looked like a hunt gathering. Horses, fancy dress & a van full of barking dogs. I was happier 10 minutes later when a car stopped to ask if I’d seen horse boxes anywhere. They looked like they hadn’t been invited to the party & were planning on spoiling the fun. I pointed them in the right direction. Running down a hill into Ashbourne, I realised I was going no quicker than the lad ahead of me that was walking down. Very disappointing! I felt weary. 

#5 Tissington trail -17 miles. After having soup (that burnt my mouth!) & a brew in Ashbourne I felt a little better & even managed to get some slow running for a while. Not much I can say about the trail. It went dark & I lost my sanity. This is where I started talking out loud to myself, singing random songs & seeing things. My partner offered to come & get me (tempting) but I said he couldn’t actually get to where I was…&, by the time he could, this section would be over anyway. Before I came, a friend sent me a mantra ‘you didn’t come this far to only come this far’. I said that to myself lots along the way. I had points where I was walking really slowly, points where I could actually run (slowly) for a short while & points where I was marching. The sticks really help with the marching. On many occasions, I turned around to shine the torch because I was convinced I could hear something/someone but what kind of nutter would be out here in the dark?!? I checked where I was on OS far too frequently & felt like I’d barely moved since my last check. This just needed to end! I couldn’t quite see how to leave the trail at my planned point but I was getting off that bloody trail. I stumbled around in cow muck & mud a climbed over a couple of walls to get to the road I needed to Chelmorten. 

#6 the last stretch…8.5 miles to Dove Holes.

Doesn’t sound far….but it had been stretched out greatly. Headed up to Chelmorten & found the footpath I needed to get down to the A6. I was in a field when my partner phoned. Apparently, my dad had been trying to get in touch & was starting to worry. Andy wanted me to phone him. This was the point I almost cried. I told him I was in the middle of a field,  knackered & needed to concentrate. Again, he offered to come & get me. Not sure how he’d get his car to that field!! & then I came to the downhill. Oh my god!!! This is why recces are a good idea (& also why you shouldn’t ever follow Mather willy nilly). I was angry with myself (& you, Will. Lol). I went back up to see if I could see another way down. Not in the dark I couldn’t. So, down i went. Very aware of how slippery the rocks were & how tired my legs were. My thoughts going to how long it would take for help to arrive when (not if) I fell! I was relieved to reach the bottom but not when I came to the end of the footpath & had to continue along the A6 for a short while with those fast cars. Luckily there weren’t many & then I was off it again. Up the hill, through the farm & onto paved roads. The home stretch. Only 3.8 miles to go (according to my partner who was looking on Google maps). I kept doing the maths of how long that could take. The faster you go the sooner it will be over. Easier said than done. I tried moving quicker only to slow right down again. Running was no longer an option. The pathetic shuffle, where I was at high risk of tripping & landing on my face, was probably slower than my walking pace at this point. Another phone call ‘I’m in Dove Holes. You’re about a 3 minute drive from me. Shall I come & pick you up?’ Apparently, I shouted at him & he hung up on me. I didn’t come this far to only come this far!! I finally came to the lights at the junction. That hill felt like a mountain….& there was my lift home.

75 actual miles. 60 miles as the crow flies. I almost gave up several times. What kept me going in those last few hours?? Knowing how annoyed I’d be with myself afterwards if I’d not made it to the end!

The Roaches

Here’s the report from Zoe Barton:

The Roaches race is organised by Mow Cop Runners and starts from the pretty village of Meerbrook, off the road from Buxton to Leek (bloody lovely road that)

It’s a B Long category race of 15 miles, running North from the village to the Roaches rock outcrop/ridge, and then traversing the Staffordshire countryside as far as the steep Shutlingsloe hill. It then returns by the same route

Neal Bann, captain Ian and myself took part. It’s a great race for varied terrain , it has a few steep climbs but also plenty of runnable climbs as well. You get muddy fields, woodland, moorland ridge with pretty rocks, technical descents , a river crossing, some evil undulating farmers fields and then Shutlingsloe climb… and then all of that again in reverse. It was well marked and marshalled with even a few supporters out. We all commented how it was a toughie due to the amount of fast running potential!  Neal and Ian both had good runs and placed well. I somehow managed 4th lady, and first LV45. After tea, cake and soup in the village hall (no muddy shoes please) there was a prize-giving. I came away with ten pounds Cash Sterling which isn’t bad.  Full results will be out later this eve on http://www.mowcoprunner.com/pages/TheRoaches.aspx

Dunnerdale Fell Race

Anyone guess where John Pollard has been? Here’s his report:

There’s quite a bit I could say about this superb little race, not least the way I finished it like a drunk on tottering legs. But I’m going to put that in the vault marked experience as I haven’t quite fathomed why my legs just gave out on the final descent, even after pushing so hard on the earlier climbs.

It’s a canny route, around the modest but rugged fells between the Lickle and Duddon valleys – nothing towering, but rugged, tough ascents coming regularly and descents which test the nerves and the brakes…as I found in the last mile when mine failed and my brain told me I could still hurtle to the finish when I clearly should have eased back.

Had a bit of help tbh putting myself back together from some kind fellow runners, what a fantastic running community we have.

Black Combe Runners, who organise it and who I run with socially are a fabulous club, just like GDH, and they did a great job on this one as there were various issues to overcome, including blown away race tents the night before and an unfinished road bridge where the race started!

The race attracted nearly 300 runners and on such a blissful November day the whole setting was a picture. The pictures I’ve seen are tremendous, especially those by Stephen Wilson, the doyen of fell race photographers.

Monthly Mash-Up

Don’t forget to keep taking part in the monthly mash-ups. Here’s the latest from Immy Trinder:


In teams of two, you will have one hour to scour the streets of Glossop for a selection of lamp posts worth varying points values. The team with the highest score at the end will be declared the winners! This is open to ALL club members. You can cover as much or as little distance as you like within the hour, or you can even return before the hour is up if you like.

The course will start and finish in Norfolk Square. On the start line, you will be provided with a map. You then have one hour to visit as many controls as you can, and return to the start. Each control is a lamp post, which is located at the corresponding point on the map. To score, all you need to do is note down the unique 4-6 digit lamp post number before moving on to the next. Each Control has a different value between 10 and 40 points. Typically, the more awkward/further away they are, the higher the score. But be aware, you need to be back at the start within the magic 60 minutes. For every 1 minute you are late, you will be penalised 10 points!!

In addition to the map, you will be provided with a score sheet, listing the Control ID’s, what they score, their exact description (to allow you to ID the exact lamp post), and a space to note the unique lamp post number.  Once all teams have returned to Norfolk Square, we will frequent the Norfolk Arms for a beverage of choice!

So grab a partner and get yourselves signed up for a fun run around Glossop with a difference! Please use the Microsoft form – you only need to complete one form per pair. Please read the course rules carefully, and note the requirement for a high-vis item of apparel!  https://forms.office.com/r/j6C5PuJieW

Fancy some laps round Manor Park?

Of course you do! and Guy Riddell is at it again… Will he beat he current MKL (Most Known Laps) of Manor Park set at 50 in 2020. Here’s what’s happening:

Starting at 10pm on Friday night 19th November, Guy Riddell & Pete Wallroth will run round the Glossop parkrun route at Manor Park throughout the night finishing with Glossop parkrun itself on Saturday at 9am and 50-60 miles each in the legs. 

We’re asking people to donate to Glossop food bank – you can drop donations at mine any evening this week or Monday, Thursday or Friday during the day 48 Stanyforth Street, Hadfield. Alternatively they take cash donations or you can use the collection points at your supermarket. 

If anyone wants to join for a lap or 10 please just come on down anytime, bring a torch and snacks and a cheery disposition. It’s a massive boost that we don’t have the Covid restrictions of last year when only two could run together and keeping social distancing in place. We’ll be going easy pace once I get pointing Pete under control but feel free to go whatever pace you want, it’ll be great just to see other headtorches, and try and work out who is who. 

Anyone got any suggestions for a decent breakfast after parkrun before we fall asleep please let me know too. I reckon full English and coffee & cake will be massively needed. 

Anything Else?

  • Gravy Pud soon! If you’re not on the race, you have between 22nd Nov and 12th Dec to log this route as part of the club champs.
  • Don’t forget to get yourself round the Beehive Five for the club champs (or the anytime mile and parkrun!)

That’s your lot. Don’t forget to send in reports and pics to gdhweeklyreports@gmail.com

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