Turnslack Fell Race – 27 July 2013
This fell race featured in the abbey grand prix which was possibly one of the reasons why we decided to give this a go. Jason provided the necessary encouragement by offering to share lifts, but was slightly bemused [worried?] when we announced we had not done fell races before.
Race headquarters was in a small church in the village of Calderbrook, bargain at £4. We set off with our kit requirements (“Cags”: fell runner language) up a gravel path, leading onto the hills of the race.
This was hard, everyone walked uphill and the downhills was so steep you walked too. Jim confessed to having a rest in several places, I got the impression I was being followed by the organisers collecting the flags! Conditions were hot and humid. After the 3rd climb I really thought the end was insight, but no, another last climb was ahead which almost finished me!
Jason had a great race finishing in 40th position; Jim and I were closer to the end. We both agree that more practise is required!
By Liz Willis
My first fell race unless you are prepared to count leg 3 of the Calderdale Way Relay, which I probably don’t now I’ve run the Turnslack Fell Race. Known amongst the fell running circles as a ‘beast’, I was keen to give it a go nonetheless.
It starts at the church in Calderbrook, starting deceptively easy up a gravel path before you soon venture onto the moorland. I think it was at Turn Slack Clough itself where, at the foot of a severe hill, I went face down as my leg disappeared from underneath me. This was only after a mile or so, and I was already having doubts whether my skinny, tarmac-designed body could make it round 8 miles of punishment.
More hill climbs followed. I walked up them all. Crawled using my hands up (the appropriately named) Hades Hill, up Freehouse Top, past Ramsden Clough Reservoir, then climbed up (another apt named) Rough Hill. Noon Hill was probably the worst – another scamble up using my hands, then stopped for a rest half way up. I’ve walked during races in the past on the odd occasion but never have I actually had to stop and rest!
I found the terrain unbelievably difficult to run on, struggling to get any decent pace going. I think the best I managed was a trot a couple of times. I was even slow on the downhills because they were so steep, and this is where most people would gallop past me – more experienced fell runners who would just fly down the hills.
I was relieved to see the spire of the church that marked the end of the race, but even on the gravel downhill run into Calderbrook my legs felt heavy and I couldn’t believe I could ever run so slow downhill.
I’m going to try and think of some positives now. Actually, I’m glad I did it and would probably do it again. I quite fancy the prospect of running it again but next time knowing what to expect, when to take it easy, and when to resume the pace. It was really well organised, and the course was well flagged, which is just as well as there were many moments over the 8 miles I couldn’t see anyone else in front or behind me. Race HQ dished out tea and cakes at the end and the prize presentations were fun. (For some reason all the other fell runners were wearing flip flops or sandals after the race. Can somebody please explain that to me?)
If you’ve not tried a fell race before then I definitely think you should give it a go. What got me was how ‘different’ a race it was from anything I had done before, and it was if none of my previous running experience or fitness counted a jot in preparing me for it. That made it an interesting and new challenge for me.
By Jim Whittaker
|1||Harry Dalby||S||Pudsey & Bramley||01:18:15|
|3||Holly Page||L||Calder Valley FR||01:18:59|
|40||Jason Praill||S||Abbey Runners||01:32:02|
|71||James Whittaker||V45||Abbey Runners||01:51:42|
|76||Elizabeth Willis||LV45||Abbey Runners||02:03:04|