The February 2022 Wrap-Up

It wouldn’t seem right starting a report without discussing the weather. It seems like February has had all the water pouring ferociously from the skies, some of it frozen, along with a fair bit of wind buffeting it around. But all that is a long distant memory (!?) now that the days are getting longer and sun has been enhancing our vitamin D levels all weekend. Other than soggy running clothes, what else has been happening??

GDH at National Cross Country Championships

There’s mud everywhere.

I thought it was only round Bleaklow, but apparently they have it down south too, and quite a lot it seems. It’s fantastic to see club representation here and Bliss sent in this report from the National Cross Country Champs:

This weekend five intrepid harriers set off to lands not yet ventured by GDH (at least not as far as Skuse can remember) – the National Cross Country Championships. The Nationals are a main stay of the England Athletics racing calendar where the very best runners come to battle it out through the mud in the depths of winter. Given the high calibre of athlete in attendance, naturally we fit in with the crowd quite nicely.

After a smooth 3 hour drive to the big smoke, we assembled at Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath. It was a gorgeous day with not a cloud in the sky. But as the juniors returned from their races splattered head to toe in mud, we realised the dry weather wasn’t a reflection of the course – it was going to be a muddy one. I was the only GDH runner in the ladies race as Emma sadly had to drop out at last minute due to a COVID close contact (Emma, we really missed you and can’t wait for your GDH National XC debut in 2023!).

My race was 8k made up of one short and one long lap. Our predictions were right – the word ‘muddy’ doesn’t quite cover it. From wading through bogs, to mincing down mud slides – the only saving grace was the men would have it much worse once 1100 women had churned it up some more! Nat, Crossman, Skuse and Rick were running for the men. Their race (12k) was made up of three laps, which presented three opportunities to spot them. By the start of the third lap, all looked suitably knackered and full of mud – now just a final push to the end! After some fabulous sprint finishes (photos below) we reassembled at base for a debrief.

The general consensus was ‘absolutely brutal but great fun’. Afterwards we all dragged our mud-splattered selves across the Capital, washed up and hit the town for well-earned pizza and beer. All in all, a great weekend away! So, if you can’t already tell, we had a ball and are already looking forward to Nationals next year. And we really hope to see more blue and orange vests then too!

Long Mynd Fell Race

When I was a lad growing up in the depths of the Black Country, long before I ever donned a pair of running shorts, on a sunny day I’d be bundled into the car for an hour drive to Church Stretton. It involved a long walk up a valley, sitting on the top and eating some sandwiches in the wind whilst watching the gliders/hang-gliders, and a gentle jaunt down to the town to have a good mooch around the treasures in that ridiculously large antique shop. Years later I have discovered there is also a race there, and what seems to be a rather beastly race at that! Zoe Barton sent in this report:

It’s been a wee while since the club has been able to organise any “away trips”, so a group of nine GDH were crossing everything and hoping for good fortune in the leadup to the weekend of 5th Feb. The Long Mynd Valleys weekend, based around Church Stretton, is one the club has made trips to on a number of occasions since at least ten years ago. There are two races to be experienced – the short and sharp Tittestone Clee on Saturday and the longer and very hilly Long Mynd Valleys on the Sunday. 

Bridges Hostel provided us with a base, situated beside a pub and a drive over the single-track hilltop road to Church Stretton. 

Saturday dawned windy and chilly, and hardy Rob Rayner went for a morning trot up to Stiperstones before racing later. Sikobe, Kate, Rob, Robin Zoe and Neal decided to race up and down Tittestone Clee hill. A very simple, friendly and traditional style fell race – sign up in the village hall,jog down the lane to the start, briefing, and then charge across the field into the biting wind. It has recently been upgraded slightly by the addition of dibbers for timing but they didn’t pose any impediment. Some great runs and those of you who’ve read earlier posts will see that the timing element made for some interesting post race analysis. 

I had suggested a recce of the latter sections of the  Long Mynd Valleys race itself after lunch. All the morning’s racers plus Sarah agreed to this rather ambitious plan. Sikobe and Kate had even reccied the lion’s share of the route on Friday in pretty shocking weather. We met steep grassy climbs, rough pathless hollows and a variety of winter weather but has good visibility and then lucked out when we spied a chap carrying pieces of marker tape. He was a Mercia Fellrunner tasked with placing Control 8 in its rightful position. We pumped him for as much info on the best racing lines as politeness allowed,  and chatted away on the descent back to the cars. Suitable exhausted , we repaired back to the hostel and pub for refreshments and debriefs with Alison and Becky who’d run a route along the Shropshire way and then accidentally got locked out of the hostel, necessitating a sit down in the pub for a while. 


Preparation for the Main Event consisted of checking the weather forecast (the weather station at the Gliding Club atop the Long Mynd promised some quite exciting gusts and some wet stuff from the clouds), eating breakfast (some went for the hostel fryup and it did not disappoint) and faffing. Lots of kit, shoe and food faffing. Alison, Becky and Rob bade the racing pack farewell and promised to wave at us somewhere along the route. 

The Long Mynd Valleys race is an A medium category race of 11 miles, which makes it long for a medium, and some 1370 metres ascent, which is mostly loaded into the final third where we had been the previous day. It’s not for the faint hearted but if you love grassy “walls” of ascent, rough brackeny boggy descents and then lots more of the same, then this is the one for you. The race HQ is at the national trust cafe which provided welcome shelter from the chilly wind we had become acquainted with at Tittestone. We met a few Pennine runners and a chatty guy from London. Much debating on jackets/no jackets. I went jacket and did not regret it , as soon as I hit the first climb I worried about overheating and then the wind robbed me all of my body heat in one blow. 

It rained a few times, blown at us hard across the tops but with so many downs and ups, we always had the benefit of the shelter in the valleys.

Everyone made it back soggy and smiling. Sarah was 4th female and Neal placed well in the vet40s. Soup in the cafe them home with aching legs.  I’m glad to have introduced a few more GDH to the pleasures of the Long Mynd and hopefully we’ll be able to organise a trip next year. 

February by Frank

Frank Hamilton submitted a summary of all the things he’s been up to this month (presumably the unmentionable things have remained unmentioned), and here it is:

February began with the Alan Kirk memorial Lad’s Leap fell race – which now seems like an absolute age ago! The conditions were truly atrocious but bumping into Paul Skuse en-route enabled me to take my mind off things and chat all things running as we ambled along the rezzers towards Crowden (we even got chatting to a friendly chap who turned out to be Alan Kirk’s brother)! As the wind and rain swirled around the race HQ at the camp site, this definitely had the feel of one to get over and done with as quickly as possible, and it was with a distinct feeling of trepidation that I approached the start line before Des got proceedings underway. Predictably it was a slog, and just as predictably I maintained my tradition in fell racing of taking a wrong turn. Completely confused I ploughed on through the bog and managed to stagger home in 28th place. A real war of attrition and not one that I’ll reminisce about in years to come – although I’ll probably end up doing it all again next year! 

Next up was the Aintree half marathon (part of my prep for April’s Manchester Marathon). The weather forecast was grim (torrential rain and a ‘fresh breeze’), but mercifully the rain never materialised, so it was just the wind I had to contend with. Taking my usual haphazard approach to road racing I set off thinking I was Mo Farah before quickly remembering I’m most definitely not and settling into a more natural pace and recording a time of 1:24.52. Pretty much bang on for my target time of a sub 1:25. A very pleasing race in the end and a confidence booster ahead of the marathon. 

On to the David Bray club champs race. After a recce on Wednesday (to get my head around the complexities of ‘Middle Bank’), I was good to go on Friday. In the end it was brilliant to join a fellow bunch of Harriers for a group attempt – kindly organised by John Gaffney. For once the weather was favourable, and despite a pre-race meal of salt and pepper chips, I got round ok with a time of 1:07:10. A really enjoyable route and one I’ll definitely use again. 

Last but definitely not least was yesterday’s recce of the March club champs challenge – the Glossop Fell Race. A cursory look at the route was enough for me to realise this needed an accomplice or two who know what they’re doing, so I was really grateful to Neil Bann and Anthony Walker for running with me and showing me the ropes. Now I’ve just got to try and remember it all for myself, including how best to descend the precipitous Lawrence Edge! 

David Bray Fell Race

If you haven’t seen the name “David Bray” in your Strava feed, I can only conclude that you aren’t on Strava. I feel like I have the shape of that route embedded on my brain and I haven’t even run it this month (eek!). Everyone has been at it: recces, socials, beast mode and handicap with some fantastic times being posted. Let’s wait till Phythagor-Ian crunches the numbers to see how everyone has got on.

Monthly Mash-Up – Zombie Apocalypse

Some vile slathering beasts were spotted marauding throughout Glossop on an unspecified Thursday in February. No, it wasn’t Julian’s fell group, but rather the latest monthly mash-up – The Zombie Apocalypse. Organised by the undead themselves: Immy Trinder and Ian Crutchley.

Sorry if the picture puts you off your Sunday dinner. Horrific scenes out in the streets, the pitchforks started on the local FB page… Some made it to the Palatine alive, most didn’t…

Doctor’s Gate Fell Race

This has been off and on more times than [insert appropriate simile here]. The route got changed last minute due to permissions and looked to be more of a race up to Higher Shelf/Pennine Way and back. Nothing wrong with that though – what a cracking route on our doorstep. I just did a bit of sleuthing and Josh Southall came in 1st Harrier and Neal Bann 1st oldie and won a quality drawing of our very own hills. Congratulation on the team prize too with Josh, Neal and Greg Chandler picking up first place. Top running!


Of course, it was also the AGM last week. The technology worked with a delicious serving of yearly reports and motions delivered via. MS Teams. It’s been a great year for the club with loads of new members and loads of club events/socials and encouragement to get out there and run. Here’s Vicki’s summary:

Thanks so much to all those members who took the time to attend the AGM last night and to those who sent apologies.

It really was a jam packed agenda with lots of great stories about some fantastic achievements from our club members and about the work that has been successfully completed by our Club Captains (Immy and Ian), our the Welfare Officers (Kate and Ben), our coaches and session leaders (Jeroen, Charmayne, Chris Andrew, Rob and Paul Skuse), our website expert (Daniel), our Covid Officer (Andy) and by those members of our Committee (Alison, Steve, Guy Matt Jeroen, Zoe, Pete and me) with fifteen meetings taking place over the course of the last twelve months and lots of really positive progress and developments and with the promise of lots more to come in the club’s 40th year!

It was great to see new members putting themselves forward for places on the committee and a very big welcome to our new committee members Immy Trinder Charlotte Anne Bliss, Rick Gdh and Nat Hicks and welcome back to returning members Alison, Steve, Matt, Zoe and me. A huge thank you to Guy, Jeroen and Pete for all the time you have dedicated to being a part of the committee and of course for the roles you still have within the club.

Don’t forget to send your reports and pictures for March in to We can’t do it without you!

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