Glossopdale Harriers wasted no time getting back to racing in 2022. Thanks to everyone who sent in reports this month – read on for the details!…
Report by Guy Riddell
Started 2022 on a positive note with the Hardmoors 30 starting and finishing at Whitby Abbey. Originally planned to stay with my parents in North Yorkshire on NYE meaning about an hour from Whitby, but our friend Covid put paid to that, so it was a 3:45am alarm and I set off driving at 4:20 to get over in time for a 7am registration.
Car was loaded with several kit variations as I couldn’t quite believe the forecasted 13-15 degrees. As it turned out the forecast was right, so set off in a thin base layer and T-shirt and despite strong coastal winds I was toasty the whole way round. The route takes you along glorious high coastal paths following the Cleveland Way to the picturesque Robin Hood’s Bay, then a climb up onto Stoupe Brow before taking the Cinder Path through Ravenscar to Cloughton. Coming back is pretty much the reverse, Cleveland Way to Robin Hood’s Bay then the Cinder Path as far as Northcliffe before picking up the coastal path once more back to Whitby Abbey.
The route was a mix of flat and compact trail (not unlike the Longdendale Trail) and gloopy undulating quagmire. The kind of mud that your shoes just collect making them brown and heavy for most of the run, while offering zero traction. Some of the downhill sections were a bit hairy to say least, legs all over like Bambi, and headed directly towards barbed wire / gorse / cliff edge while desperately trying to coordinate your feet to hit the one dry patch that might help you stay upright.
Being a Hardmoors event, of course there were bonus miles, and I clocked up 33.6 miles in the end. I’d started hoping for around 6 hours, which soon became 6.5 hours, and ultimately 7 hours with the extra distance, but I smiled a lot and spoke to some great characters, ultra runners are a ‘special’ bunch and have some great tales to tell.
Would highly recommend this – although not a marked route, very few places you can go wrong and a good introductory ultra – although doubtful the weather will ever be as favourable again!
South Yorkshire Orienteers: Blacka Moor
Report by Zoe Barton
Keen to get some practice at navigation, and interested to see what kind of format the Orienteering Club events followed, Kate Bowden and Zoe travelled through the clag and out the other side to Totley Moor area for a South Yorkshire Orienteers event on Sunday morning.
We chose the Score format – 90 minutes to visit as many controls as you like.
The hardest part was the pre entry system, which seemed to require a degree in Orienteering Entry Systems to navigate. Registration was simple and no kit check.
We fought through a small brambly wood to the start area , where we saw a lot of keen competitors lining up for their maps. Not much additional info was given but on explaining we were novices, the volunteer explained the basics of the control descriptions and the map. The scale was a whopping 1 to 10,000 which neither us us had ever used before. After the traditional false start and ditching trying to find our chosen first control we got into our stride and had a fun hour or so finding flags around the course. Weather was clear and lots of it was on paths and some in woods.
We decided our route back to the finish with around 30 mins remaining, and then made a small error which meant that the last control was a bit “ambitious” to reach, but I encouraged Kate to follow me up a gently rising moorland track to visit it. We only had 5 mins to return and that’s where I realised the end was back through the brambly woods, not in the start field. Mega D’OH. A haring descent back down the path and a painful dash through the woods… we lost 50 points each. But there was tea and cakes and friendly chats.
We both learned a lot, there’s no better way to improve your nav in my book. If anyone fancies a trip up there one weekend or summer evening, we’ve kept the maps and can access the moor via public footpaths
Report by Rick Steckles
The GDH Team Taxi rolled into the grounds of Marsden Cricket Club at 7am for my first ever Trigger Race. The glorious Derbyshire weather (?) had turned to icy rain showers as we crossed in Yorkshire – although I shouldn’t have worried at that point, as things would soon become much worse.
Covid-inspired regulations turned the pre-race into a one-way system, with runners encouraged to wait outside in a car once they’d completed their preparation. Like many others, we had no car to wait in so resolved to make our preparations (inside a nice warm building) as careful and thorough as possible.
I was fully prepared for kit check, having brought all the required gear and then some. Unfortunately, the friendly kit-check lady presented me with a much more detailed kit list than the one emailed out before the race, the latest version adding “not a blanket” next to “emergency bag”. Mine was labelled “blanket” in big letters, so I was caught bang to rights. I was advised that I could buy a “proper” emergency bag from the mountain rescue team across the room and was given a bright orange emergency tarpaulin to cart around for 25 miles, bigger in size and weight than all the rest of my equipment put together. Still, I learned a valuable life lesson: sometimes a bag is not a bag – it’s a blanket.
After another 45 minutes of carefully packing and re-packing items into different pockets of my race vest, I headed out to the start where I saw Robin and Sarah from the club – great to finally meet them, as I’d been copying Robin’s routes on Strava for some time (including one of their recce line across to Kinder for today’s race). We were given a short speech before an unceremonious “Go!” kicked off proceedings, everyone wading across the muddy dam wall before joining a path alongside the reservoirs.
I could see Neal and Josh ahead and made my way gradually through the field, joining Neal at Wessenden Head before we diced with death across the half-frozen doom flags towards Black Hill. A bevy of Mountain Rescue folk welcomed us to the first checkpoint at the trig. Slowing down just enough to flash the race number under my waterproof, we forked left across the moor towards Crowden Meadows, me heroically taking the lead and warning my companions of dicey ground by sinking thigh-deep into every bog en route. We took a slightly different (better) line down to Crowden Little Brook than I’d planned, before everyone tidied up their hair and make-up ready for the photo op at the stream crossing.
Choosing a more deliberate approach over the popular “Flying Karate Splash”, I made it to the other side without incident and began the gentle ascent up the other side of the valley, with Neal just ahead. After a few minutes I decided to partake in a Mars Bar, soon slowing down as I realised that breathing heavily while eating a frozen Mars Bar is not easy. I lost a few places here but eventually arrived at the summit of the trail, before losing a few more places by way of my trademark “safety first” descending technique.
I crossed Woodhead Pass and enjoyed a handful of jelly babies at the second checkpoint, before ramping up the pace (from “hobble” to “stagger”) for the flat-ish detour around Torside Reservoir. Next up was another road crossing before the power-walk up towards Clough Edge.
Soon the path levelled out enough to break out into a jog, before turning into churned-up mush and reducing me to wallowing from one quagmire to the next. My relatively quick early pace was a distant memory and a couple more overtook me on this section, but I had a secret weapon in my navigational arsenal – my expertly-recce’d line across to Dowstone Clough.
Unfortunately, between the snow and heavy clag, visibility wasn’t great and I stumbled across the path by Dowstone Clough at an unfamiliar intersection before spending 7 minutes wandering up and down in search of the crossing point (which took on a special significance when I finished in 5:07… d’oh!).
Back on familiar “3 Trigs” ground, I dashed through the snow to Higher Shelf trig, where another jovial Mountain Rescue crew took my number and set me on my way west via the plane wreckage. The Pennine Way was particularly busy today and I passed various Spine Race contenders coming the other way, before realising who they were and what they were doing (and putting my efforts neatly into perspective). I bumped into Chris Jackson offering encouragement and some very welcome snacks, then eventually arrived at the Snake Pass checkpoint.
By now I was struggling with the cold/wet conditions – everything was soaked including my waterproof mitts. I’d resorted to balling my hands up into fists inside the soggy mitts for extra warmth, with the rest of the mitts flapping around in the breeze. It was time for more joyous Flags of Doom, which had now turned into an icy-bedded water course. I splashed across a section completely submerged in water and suddenly lost my left leg to a peat bog, rolling round in a crampy mess before finally righting myself and staggering towards Within Clough at a bearing of 170 degrees.
En route down to the crossing at Ashop Clough I was flanked by other Trigger racers, heading encouragingly in the same direction. I crossed the stream and celebrated by breaking out my personal stash of Jelly Babies, stomping my way up towards the north face of Kinder where I briefly caught up with Robin and Sarah before they powered away up to the plateau.
Finally reaching flat land and with the last significant climb under my belt, I followed a bunch of cairns to the Sandy Hays trig – the final checkpoint of the race, marshalled by more heroic Mountain Rescuers. I bumbled across the giant pebbles to Kinder Downfall, then embarked on a much-recce’d traverse of Kinder Scout (happily guided by footsteps in the snow). I finally arrived at Crowden Tower and was confident of the rest of the route, so picked up the pace again and made up a few places towards Grindslow Knoll.
Embarking on the final descent, I gained 7 or 8 more places by avoiding the tricky tourist path via a steep direct line down towards Grindsbrook Booth (cheers again, Ian!). Cheered up by the return of some runnable ground, I pegged it past a couple more on the final stretch before the finish.
A difficult race at the time, but fantastic in hindsight; within 24 hours I was looking forward to another attempt next year. Congratulations to everyone from Glossopdale Harriers who took part and achieved some great results, and thanks again to everyone who stood in terrible conditions to support us en route!
Manchester Area XC League: Tatton Park
Report by Chris Webb
It was the 4th match of the season at the lovely Tatton Park and the glorious weather made up for the grim condition at Kenworthy Woods in the last match. Joanne and Charmayne represented the women and worked together running side-by-side by the looks of it for the entire race (see the pic below), another solid result to add to a consistently excellent season for Joanne and Charmayne at cross country.
In the mens race it was the usual scene at the MACCL with the front runners taking it out hard. The course had a bit of mud here and there but the dry weather in the last week or so meant it was largely runnable. It was good to see MACCL debuts from Nat Hicks, Ben Robertson and Rick Gwilt (Rick’s probably run many MACCL races in the past but it’s the first in a while at least!) who all had strong races by the looks of it. As usual, Frank Fielding showed the rest of us how it’s done powering to 2nd in the V70 category. Stefan Bramwell seems to have recovered from COVID and a heavy cold and ran well, doing battle with Nat who managed to stay ahead by the finish. It will be interesting to see how we’ve done in the team results, there’s a chance we may move up a division next season, those results will be out in a few days.
The final match of the season is at Heaton Park on Saturday 19th February.
500th (12th FV55): Joanne Brack, 44:14
501st (23rd FV50): Charmayne Birerley, 44:15
42nd (6th MV40): Chris Webb, 34:55
124th: Nathaniel Hicks, 37:35
141st (23rd MV45): Stefan Bramwell, 38:10
207th (35th MV45): Jamie Helmer, 40:19
335th (7th MV60): David Chrystie-Lowe, 44:49
351st (67th MV40): Ben Robertson, 45:25
379th (2nd MV70): Frank Fielding, 46:54
485th (4th MV70): Rick Gwilt, 47:39
Northern Cross Country Championships
Report by Chris Webb
Just in case you think you’re in half-decent form and running well, the Northerns is always willing to put you back in your place!
Always an extremely strong field, the best runners from around the north converged this year at Pontefract Racecourse to battle it out on an extremely windy day. I raced the Northerns here in 2019 and had a stinker finishing 199th but I’ve been running better this winter so I was hoping for at least top-150 and maybe top-100 if the stars aligned.
There were no start pens due to COVID so it was a true mass start and we all set off at warp speed as the wind was behind us. The wind meant that you went from flying to a near standstill depending on the direction of travel so I was trying to keep my perceived effort pretty even whilst trying to tuck in behind the group when the wind was fiercest. Championship races (Northerns and Nationals) at slightly longer than regular XC, so it was 12km rather than 10 and it was noticeable how many runners fell off the pace on the 3rd lap as they started to tire.
I felt solid if not fantastic, but picking up places on the last lap kept me motivated and I put in a final bust to try and drop the group I’d been with for the final lap which I managed bar one Sale Harrier who pipped me on the line. I finished 113th in the end which I was pretty happy given the depth of quality in the field.
I know a few are planning to run the Nationals at Parliament Hill but I’d encourage you to get the Northerns on your calendar for 2022; less travel and a chance to see how you stack up against a similarly high-quality field.
Club Championships 2022
…and lastly (but by no means leastly), details of the all-new 2022 Club Championships are now online – check out the info/routes and enjoy the rousing video trailer to get you in the mood!