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Gritstone Fixtures: Round Ten – Grin N Bear It Fell Race

The main points:

Grin n Bear It 2019:

  • The 10th and final race of the 2019 Gritstone Series.
  • The race will start and finish at Langsett Barn, Langsett, Stocksbridge, S36 4GY.
  • Race date: Sunday 27th October 2019, 10am (registration open from 8:30am). Entry is £10 in advance, £12 on the day.
  • Entry fee includes hot meal and drinks at the end of the race.
  • The route: 27km with 890m of ascent
  • Please note that the route is different since 2017 due to issues with land access.
  • Please bring full kit as required by FRA rules.  A decision will be made on the day regarding what must be carried.  ‘Best practice is to carry FRA Mandatory Minimum Kit, but specific requirements are at the Race Organiser’s discretion’.  Note: FRA Mandatory Minimum Kit (for Long A, Medium A and Long B races) comprises: waterproof whole body cover (with taped seams and integrated attached hood) + hat + gloves + map + compass + whistle + emergency food
  • All competitors should be aware and adhere to the FRA rules which are available on the FRA websitehttp://www.fellrunner.org.uk/   These will also be available at the race.
  • If you retire from the race at any point after you have registered you must inform the nearest checkpoint marshal or race organiser.
  • All profits from the race go to Woodhead Mountain Rescue.

The ‘flava’:

This is it, final race of the 2019 series and the longest one to boot.  Organised by Woodhead Mountain Rescue and befitting their experience in the outdoors.

Among the highlights of this race are a tough rocky climb early on from Langsett to the summit of Cut Gate, where it’s a quick descent to Slippery Stones before once again climbing all the way to the top of the Derwent Watershed at Swains Head.  There’s a stretch where you’ll get muddy if you’re not careful and some well positioned tape is a lifeline across an open boggy area.  By the time you pick your way through the remains of the course, across ruins and stiles here and there, you’ll find yourself back where you started, some half marathon (and change) later.

Those with strength endurance might gain from this course, where the pure speed freaks will have their work cut out, due to the overall length and extended periods of ascent.  It’ll be interesting to see if any unexpected results come in as a result.

Read about Team Accelerate’s Caroline French and her experience of the race back in 2018.

The race is well marked and has 6 Check Points – marshalled by Woodhead MRT. The race terrain is a mix of rocky paths and open exposed peat fell – The first section is a climb out of Langsett up to Mickleden and Cut Gate where the route then leads onto open fell tops – this is an exposed section running across well worn peat pathway/lines. After the decent from Swains Head CP the final section has a few short climbs then gives a fast home run across grassy moorland and woodland tracks.

Entry form: https://grinnbearit.org/entry-form/

Full Gritstone Series information and results can be found at https://www.gritstoneseries.co.uk/

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Gritstone Fixtures: Round Eight – Curbar Commotion

 

  • The race will start and finish at Curbar Primary School, Calver Bridge, S32 3XA
  • Saturday 5th October 2019, £7 entry fee (£6 pre entry) minimum age 18/maximum number of runners 350
  • 10am start – registration from 8.30am
  • Category BM, 9.8 miles/415 metres ascent
  • Runners must arrive on the start line by 9.45am so we can complete a briefing, headcount and kit checks as appropriate
  • For any reason you decide to not take part after you have registered please inform organisers ASAP
  • Limited car parking will be available at various sites in the area
  • Toilets will be available and belongings can be left at registration
  • Please bring full kit as required by FRA rules.  A decision will be made on the day regarding what must be carried.  ‘Best practice is to carry FRA Mandatory Minimum Kit, but specific requirements are at the Race Organiser’s discretion’.  Note: FRA Mandatory Minimum Kit (for Long A, Medium A and Long B races) comprises: waterproof whole body cover (with taped seams and integrated attached hood) + hat + gloves + map + compass + whistle + emergency food
  • All competitors should be aware and adhere to the FRA rules which are available on the FRA website  http://www.fellrunner.org.uk/   These will also be available at the race.
  • The race is suitable for novices but some fell running experience is recommended
  • The weather forecast for the race will be displayed on the day
  • A map of the route will be displayed on the day
  • A copy of the safety check list will be displayed on the day
  • A hypothermia leaflet will be displayed on the day
  • The race will be well marked and marshalled; one marshal will sweep the route behind the last runner
  • Drinks and cakes will be provided at the end of the race
  • Prizes will be available for first male/first female, first vets +40, first vets +50, first vets +60. +70 and first locals (i.e. residents of Calver, Curbar & Froggatt)
  • All monies raised go to Curbar Primary School

Around a good while, but more recently added to the Gritstone Series as one of the ‘long’ events and boy has it become popular!  Perhaps because of the access or the relatively easy 9.8 miles (as opposed to the even longer stuff later in October).  Back again this weekend (Sat) and likely to be wetter than an Otter’s pocket!

Course Information

The race starts and finishes at Curbar Primary School, S32 3XA. It is 9.8 miles long and covers a variety of tracks and paths through Curbar, Frogatt and Baslow. Marshalls will be in place around the course and will be well marked. There are two road crossings to be aware of, one at the beginning of the race on Bar Road and another over Clodhall Lane. After the Bar Road crossing you will cover a section of The Green, Curbar. All will be marshalled however please be extremely cautious as the roads are not closed. You will also negotiate a number of gates and stiles in the race. Please do not cross walls or fences and be respectful of the surroundings. You may encounter cattle and horses on the route, again please be extremely cautious if this situation arises.  The route is the same as recent years.

 

 

Entry on the day is £7 but pre entry is available at a reduced price of £6.  Please note that only forms and money received before 30th September 2019 will be accepted. All payments must be clearly marked with runners details.

Online entry is available via payment to Curbar Primary PTA Sort code 40-09-30 Account number 21061186 and emailing the entry form to the curbarcommotion@yahoo.com

Or you can fill in the entry form below and send a cheque to Curbar Primary School at:

Curbar Primary School

Calver Bridge

Calver

Hope Valley

S32 3XA

 

Please find the application from by following this link: fell race entry form 2019 Data compliant

The race is part of the ‘Gritstone Series’, details of which can be found at: www.gritstoneseries.co.uk

If anyone has any queries please contact the event organiser, Helen Walton, on 07968561519 or email thecurbarcommotion@yahoo.com 

Updates regarding the race can be found on our Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/The-Curbar-Commotion-Fell-Race-665058120255420/

 

Please find information about parking for the event at this link (clearer image) and see below: large parking map

 

 

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Dig Deep!

Dig Deep. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. What is doesn’t say though is “yeeeees! I did it!”

I’ve not had what you’d call an ideal build up, what with spraining my right ankle in March and then a stress fracture in the left ankle early June. I’m not going to lie, I was a little anxious. July onwards I’d resisted the urge to wrap myself in cotton wool AND bubble wrap and got out on the hills training. Sometimes, the mental battle was every bit as hard as the physical one. Those inner voices of “you’re not fit enough” and “what if you fall?”…they’re sneaky little buggers I can tell you.

Training sessions and long runs ticking off as the weeks go by, some tough some a breeze. You know how it is. Then literally 3 weeks before race day (getting goose bumps as I write this) I realised I’m going to make the start line! Having missed out on a couple of big events through injury, a major milestone.

Saturday morning: race day. A 6am alarm call. Eek. Nerves and excitement in one crazy cocktail. “Come on girl. You’ve got this”.

On arrival at Whirlow and race HQ (and yes, on time. Another hurdle for me!), I was literally buzzing. Proud as punch to be there with the other crazy, awesome bunch. Lots of smiley faces, sharing words of encouragement. Before I knew it, it was race briefing and then we were off!

As we set off I had a moment if gratitude: that I’d made it, it was a beautiful, beautiful day and that I was blinking well doing it!

Race day was a stunning, misty sunny morning and as we headed out over towards Houndkirk it was truly was amazing.

As we reached Stanage I was feeling dead relaxed and pacing steadily. Running my own race and enjoying being a part of it. I felt great. Up new road, down to Yorkshire bridge and the first fab checkpoint, filled with goodies. Up parkin clough and still feeling awesome. Couldn’t resist a selfie at the trig! On the way back down to Hope started chatting to the lovely Sarah and as it happens we ended up running a lot of the race together from there.

The route was just fab and the miles ticked by so easily. The 2nd checkpoint landed and I was still feeling fab. Snacks and water topped up and straight out the door. Up Bradwell edge, down into Shatton, over to Hathersage along the river. Beautiful.

There’s a cheeky climb out of Hathersage. Sarah and I chatted the while way up ( I know, me talking a lot!!), chatting about how her other half was getting on. Some guy called Jonathan doing the 60. Soon we were scrambling up through ferns and back into Carl Walk. A perfect photo spot apparently!

Oh my god. I was on Houndkirk. How did that happen. Waves of goose bumps and a little emotional moment. “I’m really going to do it”. Slapping myself metaphorically round the face I cracked on. Down limb valley then up the final climb.

Approaching the finish line, I think this is my proudest running moment to date. It’s a big run. I wasn’t where I wanted to be training wise but I had faced it head on, braved the what if and turned up. I set off with the highest positive attitude to give it my all and enjoy it. No matter what the race, that’s all we can do.

Massive achievement and actually I did pretty well. 5th female and 18th overall of 116 runners. 5 hrs 56 ish. Super pleased.

Have to say a huge thanks to Stu Debs and Colin( and the accelerate team in general!) or their words of support and encouragement. Scott Running and the lovely Chris Dunn, a huge thanks to you too for supporting the race. Finally, all you crazy hardy fools who ran that day, you rock!

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The Ladybower 50 Ultra Series : A Virtual Recce

 

Year on year I have hosted a recce of The Ladybower 50 Ultra Series.

It has always been a fun little run, but this year life has conspired to keep us all very busy at Accelerate and there simply isn’t time.

So, not to be out-done, I’ve elected to provide you with a ‘virtual recce’ of sorts.

A little guide to the event, the course and a few hints at tackling this event with confidence.

Ladybower 50 is a number of things.  It’s a picturesque event in the Peak District, right outside Sheffield and based around the Derwent Valley – packed with local history and featuring some interesting remains from the village which used to exist under the reservoir itself.  Derwent & Howden Dams are lovely to look at and provide a landmark upon which to focus as you circle the water’s edge.

I gained my 50 mile personal best during the Ladybower 50 in 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So, the route.

From the lay-by near to Fairholmes Visitor Centre on race day – we would normally set off from outside the Centre itself on the recce, as the parking (pay and display) makes it a more sociably convenient start/finish.  The course lies within the Derwent Valley, home to Derwent Dam, used as practice for the famous ‘Dambusters’ Bouncing Bomb campaign and home to a museum all about the missions during WWII.

First thing to consider – all races (20, 35 and 50 mile distances) travel in an anti-clockwise direction and feature the same start loop of 5 miles (red dots).  Through the back of the lay-by into a wooded trail (my favourite section) and down to the A57 (Manchester Rd).  Across the bridge and back on yourself as you once again pick up the path at the water’s edge.  The soft, undulating trail turns to grassy fields just before the bridge and then after a spell on pavement, turns into a tarmac/hard concrete section, before becoming more of a hard packed trail all the way to the 4 mile mark or so…

Final stretch of road, back to where you were and you return to race HQ for a second loop on race day.  5 miles complete and back where you started already!

For the recce of course, we only bother to complete this section the once.

This is normally where I ask the group how they feel.  Last minute kit swap or toilet visit before we head off to complete the 10 mile section at the top of the valley.

From here you need to have stocked up at least enough drink to last for a further 5 miles and food for the entire 10 mile loop.  You’ll also have to bear in mind that from this point things get more and more cut off and there’s every chance a change in weather will leave you without any easy way out of the valley.

For this reason, I ask folk to bring waterproof cover, hat/gloves, food/drink and suitable footwear for uneven and often wet ground.

 

 

Terrain wise, there really isn’t much in it.  You can complete this course entirely in road shoes for the sake of comfort.  The need for traction is next to none, but there are a few variations under foot.  The colour coded map shoes how the majority of the course is road, with a bus route between Fairholmes and the outer reaches (top of the highest grey section).

The early wooded trail is softer and wetter than a lot of the other areas depending upon recent weather conditions and run off from surrounding hills, but is still fairly firm and easy to navigate.  There are some winding single track sections for a bit of fun and one set of steps in/out of an inlet with a narrow bridge WARNING:  Unless doing the 20 miler or at elite level, this is a good place to walk, rather than bounding down and back up the over sized steps, since you’ll regret wasting effort when you finally return to the same section on the second or third lap!

Once you’ve managed the uneven grassy section just before the A57, you’ll find the surface becomes firmer and faster.  Watch your pace and don’t get carried away.  This is where I catch myself re-writing my race plan and moving at a deceptively easy pace, only to regret it hours and hours later when I’m on fumes and the wheels have come off.

Firm ground all the way to Derwent Dam itself, where just prior, there’s a drink station set up in time for everyone’s second time around (10 miles).

NOTE:  It might be worth considering the need to carry drink for the first 5 miles, since you return to HQ on that first short lap.  Hydrate well an move at an easy pace and you could enjoy travelling light until filling bottles at the 5 mile mark before motoring on.

Once you head past the Dam (right fork, sign posted and marshalled) – it’s around we go.

At this point I’ll repeat what Race Organiser Steve King explains pre-race – “Navigation is a doddle.  The water’s on your left”.

It’s not until you reach the furthest part of the course at the very top of the valley that you encounter some very uneven stony ground and some wet, almost slippery sections here or there.  Still firm and mainly level (except for one steep descent, which again ought to be taken gently to protect the quads).

We usually plan to stop for a moment at the very northerly tip of the reservoir (a place called slippery stones) for a brief breather and chance to eat/drink at a relaxed rate while taking in the scenery.

Then it’s road all the way back to HQ, but with ups and downs along the way.  Climbs and descents take turns, while the water cuts into the surround hills and you’re forced to endure the long winded out and back sections you see branching out to the west.  They can cause a little frustration when you lock sight on the runner ahead, almost in reach across the narrow stretch of water, but by the time you round the car end of that tributary, they turn out to have been half a mile in front!  Though you’ll snigger to yourself when you look back and see someone else feeling as if they might have caught you and you leave them in your wake.

Completing the full lap provides people with a 15 mile taste of what these individual races offer.  20, 35 or 50, the deal is the same – one checkpoint/HQ at which to feed from a buffet of race snacks.  Water stations are located at 5 mile intervals, with the first two being manned and the final station being a water butt positioned for self service a the top end of the aforementioned bus route(easy to spot, next to a wide gate right before you arrive at the bus turning circle).

So having run anti-clockwise from start, onto the A57 and back onto water’s edge, reaching your start position at 5 miles and heading around the top loop for a further 10 miles, you’ve covered the course in its entirety.  Depending upon the distance you’ve opted for, you’ll then add a second or third lap for good measure.

And that’s what’s so convenient about the set up.  One checkpoint, which doubles as an aid station at 5, 10, 20, 35 and 50 miles.  Psychologically (on the full 50 miler) I found this to be more motivating than tedious.  I’d assumed that doing laps would become torture, but actually deduced the water didn’t need carrying for the first 5 miles (though I was carrying water all the same).

I realised that at the 20 mile mark I was already more than a third of the way into my ultra.  At 35 miles, the very next time I entered the HQ, I was feeling as if I’d almost finished, so there was a really positive reaction every time I happened into this same location.  On other races of upto 50 miles, there can be as many as 10 or more aid stations/checkpoints, which while very supportive, can leave you feeling as if you’re only making slow progress.

So Ladybower 50 is a great event for the first timer or navigational novice, as it’s childs play to stay on the course and the interaction with the same familiar faces creates a sense of amusement in the face of such a physical challenge.

I heartily recommend this event and have been happy to be involved from the side lines.  Currently supported by Raidlight with some very attractive prizes provided from their extensive trail running range –

Ladybower 50 – 2016

I might very well take another stab at beating my 8hrs and 50 minutes in years to come, but as a single lap, 15 miles has rarely been more rewarding than it is around this beautiful part of the world.

Perhaps that’s why so many people with no intention of ever entering the race itself used to attend the recce.  If you find yourself at a loose end and have 15 miles in you, it’s well worth a go.

So that’s it.  Simple.  Good luck if you’re racing this year.  Don’t forget that the event is officially ‘cupless’ this time and you’ll need to have at least a drink bottle upon your person, if not a lightweight cup for hot/cold drinks, such as the one from our co-sponsor this year, Raidlight.

That’s me at 2:45min in this snazzy video of the 2016 race by Martin James.

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Gritstone Fixtures: Round Seven – Longshaw* Fell Race

 

Okay, it’s the last ‘Short’ race of the series.  Last chance to qualify if you’d so far only done 3 of the 4 mandatory short events.

After this, it’s on to the ‘Long’ stuff.  More about that later in the year.

For now, the race is Longshaw.  *Or to give it the full name, Longshaw Sheepdog Trials Fell Race.  So named because (as you might have deduced) it’s part of a larger event which takes place throughout the same weekend – the Longshaw Sheepdog Trials.

 

The blurb:

Round 7 (Short): Longshaw Sheepdog Trials Fell Race, Saturday 31st August, 10:30am
Start from Longshaw Lodge on Sheffield-Hathersage road GR 265 800
Distance: 9.7km / 6m
Climb: 305m / 1001ft
Route map: here
On the Day £5 to enter field and the race is free!
£5 on the day
Records: Lloyd Taggart (2010) – 38:07 and L Lacon (2006) – 46:27
Organised in association with members from Dark Peak Fell Runners

 

The details:

Longshaw Sheepdog Trials Fell Race

The race will be held on 31st August 2019, starting at 10.30am from the Trials field at Longshaw Lodge.

Distance = 8.6km (5.3miles) with 320m (1050ft) of climb.

Minimum age limit is 16 on day of race (U18s please see additional note below)

Part of the world’s oldest sheepdog trials. Pay £5 admission fee to access the trials field, then run for nowt! Entry on the day only using standard FRA Senior Race Entry Form. Parking will be adjacent to the trials field as usual, unless the ground is wet, in which case the National Trust Longshaw car park will be used (check the race Facebook Page for status on the day)

Registration and Race HQ in the beer tent, which is adjacent to the start/finish in front of Longshaw Lodge

A counter in Accelerate Gritstone Series.The race is generously supported by both Accelerate and The National Trust. Learn about the NT’s work to protect the Peak District woodlands and their wildlife here (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/PeakDistrictAppeal) .

Please note that in line with Dark Peak Fell Runners environmental policy, no plastic cups will be made available at this race. You are encouraged to bring your own drink, which can be left at race HQ. There is also a bar.

Minor revision for 2019 with CP9 moved to access gates adjacent to milepost on Hathersage Rd:

2019-07-07--longshaw-2019-route-map.png-web.png

The race is a fixed anti-clockwise route following a mixture of well-defined paths and trods plus open fields near the start/finish. Marshals will be stationed at key sections, whilst certain areas will be flagged with tape.

This race is held under FRA Rules and runners must familiarize themselves with and comply with the FRA Requirements for Runners 2018 (the “Runners’ Rules”).

Race Kit

The kit runners are required to carry is at the discretion of the Race Organiser, depending on the weather conditions. It is always advisable that runners should bring FRA Best Practice kit with them to a fell race. A decision will be made on the day – if the weather is good, there will be no mandatory kit requirement.

FRA Best Practice Kit is waterproof whole body cover (taped seams and attached hood) + hat + gloves + map + compass + whistle + emergency food.

If there is a kit requirement then mandatory kit inspections may be performed on race day and you will not be admitted to start the race unless you have passed this inspection. A further check may be undertaken on completion of the race – anyone completing the race without the required kit will be disqualified and reported to the FRA.

Your race number must not be folded or cut down and must be clearly visible on your chest at the start, all checkpoints and the finish.

This is a fell race over rough and potentially boggy terrain and so fell or trail shoes are mandatory. Competitors with road shoes will not be allowed to run.

Retirement procedure

Runners wishing to retire from the race MUST inform Race Control (at the race HQ marquee) and not just a marshal. They should either:

  • Report to a checkpoint and then return directly to Race Control
  • Report directly to Race Control when retiring between checkpoints

Under 18 years old?

If you are aged 16 or 17 you are classed as a junior runner (those aged under 18 on the day of the race). You must therefore have the consent of your parent or legal guardian before entering and taking part in an FRA Fell Race. This consent may be obtained either by your parent/guardian signing Junior Race Entry Form on your behalf, or by the use of this Parental Consent Form.

Additional information

Race entry personal data – Race Privacy Statement

For what it’s worth, in my view, having never been round this course – it looks like another one for dry conditions if you want to move at a pace.  With the amount of rain we’ve encountered lately (as of 31/07/19) it looks like the muddy puddles will be in evidence.  The ground will be a mixture of gravel, dirt, rock and occasional bouts of wet grass, road sections and MUD.  Something for everyone.  And as is clearly stated in the official notes from the organiser, “Competitors with road shoes will not be allowed to run”.  Good shout!

Note:  I did do the Burbage Skyline a few years back, which shares a few sections with this course and believe me, Higger Tor is STEEP.  This is a taxing run for those trying to run non-stop and make good time.  If in doubt, take it slow/steady and try to at least maintain a pace which is doable, quicker than a walk, but not so hard that you have to stop to recover at every summit.  You’ll cover the course more quickly than if you busted a gut and gradually slowed down between walk/stops.  Just sayin’.

Enjoy…

The history:

A Step Back In Time…

The Longshaw Sheep Dog Trials claim to be the oldest continuous trials in the country. They have been run from 1898 to the present day, interrupted only by the two world wars. Accounts of the trials’ origin vary, but the most interesting one is as follows:

The head shepherd and head keeper to the Duke of Rutland had a competition to see who could shoot the most pigeons and the shepherd won. The keeper was furious, and challenged the shepherd to a return match. The shepherd had no gun licence and guessed that the keeper knew this, and intended to inform the Police of the competition. He told the keeper he had neither gun nor licence, and as he did not wish to borrow a gun again suggested that instead they should see whose dog could round up sheep the best, and donated a sheep as the first prize. This first unofficial trial was held around 1894 or 1895.

The first official trial was held on 24th March 1898. It attracted 16 competitors in the Open Class and five in the Local Class. A total of £19 was offered in prize money. The first day’s events were abandoned due to a snow storm but resumed the following day. A second trial was held in September 1898 when ‘the growing popularity of Sheep-dog Trials in North Derbyshire was evidenced by a large crowd on the Longshaw Pastures grounds’. A special train was run from Manchester for the event and 700 spectators paid to see the trials.

By 1901 the number of spectators had risen to 3,000, mostly from Sheffield, with prize money amounting to £33. In 1902 prize money totalled £40 and for the first time there was a competition for a brace of dogs. One report of the trials stated ‘The best dog on the field was not the winner – it was Mr Barcroft’s two year old Sep, but it was not the animal’s fault that the sheep were so stupid’.

The trials became an established fixture in the country calendar and grew in popularity with both competitors and spectators. The Duke of Rutland supported the trials from the outset. There were no trials held during the First World War and when they resumed in 1919 it was reported that ‘a really good dog that knows his worth will cost £30 or £40’. In 1925 8,000 people attended and it was announced that since the start of the trials over £1,000 had been donated to local hospitals and other charities.

Ladies were first allowed to enter the trials as competitors in 1927, but this was not repeated the following year, when a sheep shearing competition was held instead.

A microphone was introduced in 1936 to give a commentary of the events. Prior to this the spectators did not know which were the winning dogs. The following year saw the introduction of a 10 minute bus service from Sheffield, such was the popularity of the trials.

War once again intervened, and when they recommenced in 1945 the BBC were present to record the events. Two day trials were introduced in 1947, on a Thursday and a Saturday, to give more members of the public chance to come and see them, and in 1951 they were extended to the three days that they are today.

The Longshaw Sheep Dog Trials continue to be held every year in early September, providing enjoyment for many and still raising money for charities.

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