race reports

Heptonstall Fell Race

Sunday 17th March (15.1 m. 3170ft ascent)

This is the third running of this fell race and over 200 turned up to give it a go. The trip over being a nice drive through interesting and definitely Yorkshire pennine landscape through small villages with Victorian Mills in deep and obscure valleys testament to man’s ingenuity and bloody mindedness. A light dusting of snow on the hills adding to the drama of the high, open and bleak landscape through which we were going to run.

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Registration was the usual melee in the pub with added tension as the start drew closer in the toilet queue, where negotiations progressed as to which line to join- stand up or sit down! The start was in the village centre near the church with the Vicar in attendance. The race was started by the Vicar who, having a captive audience, used the time wisely and gave a short sermon and reading from Acts (Ch 20 v 24 I believe). This was in fact warmly received by believer and agnostic alike, the aptness for the former, the shortness the latter.

Doing the race was a bit of a late decision for me as being in the midst of long training runs for various Bob graham attempts, I thought it a bit short, however I have not raced since Auld Lang Syne on new years eve (a must for all those who haven’t done it)  and felt the need for a scamper up a few hills in hot pursuit of a PB. This one being easy to catch as it was my first time.  Only four Abbeys attended, I was joined by Tim Jacobs, Andy Davidson and Hilary Lane.

The race itself goes down into wooded valleys and up over open fell, quite a lot of the latter and enough of the former to make it a pretty tough race. There was a lot of bog but also lots of fast grassy, though slippery descents.

The course takes a fairly convoluted route but essentially consists of six major climbs with lots of smaller ups and downs. By the time I reached some of the boggier sections they had been converted into uberbog. A species of bog specially processed by dozens of slapping feet reducing it to ever thinner consistency. In the wooded sections mixing this with leaf mould and hiding slippery tree roots beneath on a steepish descending slope added to the exciting surprises in store for us.

At one stage we had to cross the river, we were given the option of the bridge further down but that added minutes so most of us braved the current and waded through. The river crossing was an added feature last year, mostly because the bridge at that point had been washed away but seemed to have proved popular so it was retained.

There were loads of marshals, good Raynet presence (blokes with wireless transmitters at various high points), mountain rescue and I believe the odd boyscout.

The course was well marked and the few miles of unmarked fell easy to follow because of the trail of black bog left by runners in front. This was a good thing because I had paid little attention to the map and my compass tucked deep into my rucksack.

The final hill is a bit of a killer on tired quads leaving very little spring in ones legs for the last two fields, particularly as I was being chased by Andy Davidson with whom I had been playing cat and mouse throughout the race. I must acknowledge that Andy kindly gave me three of his jelly babies half way through the race. I am not sure if it was these that made the difference but I will have to return the favour.

My intentions to do a bit more than the 15 miles well and truly quashed by tiredness and the lure of mountains of flapjack, hot tea, soup etc. The ladies of the parish did us proud with enough to eat to refuel thoroughly.

Although a tough race it goes over some good fell running ground; one I shall revisit and recommend it to anyone who fancies a go.


1 Adam Osborne Leeds City AC M 1:58:20
35 (lady 1) Liza Barry CLC Striders L* 2:24:21
99 Timothy Jacobs Abbey Runners V40 2:44:04
132 Mike Ayers Abbey Runners V50 2:52:43
133 Andrew Davidson Abbey Runners V40 2:52:49
212 (lady 28) Hilary Lane Abbey Runners LV50 3:31:09



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