Coming up in the Gritstone Series next week, Sunday 7th July, 11:00am – is the Great Hucklow Fell Race.
Okay, so the first thing is, looking at the official web page, they almost don’t want you to get there!
Here’s the section on reaching the race on time…
“Registration, start and finish are all at Great Hucklow Primary School, Great Hucklow (SK 178 781 map). Registration will be open by 9.30am or so and closes at 10.30am. Registration is close to the race start, but for most will be a fair walk from car parking.
Bus – Travelling from Sheffield? The No 65 leaves Sheffield Interchange at 09:35 and arrives in Great Hucklow at 10:27, cutting it fine for registration. You’ll need to pass a few hours before the return journey though, leaving at 16:33.
Bike – a few people most years make a proper day’s exercise of it and cycle to the registration. The hilly 25km from Sheffield, say, will give you a good excuse for a slow race time.
Train – Great Hucklow is around 8km and a hill away from 4 stations (Hope or Grindleford are most accessible) on the Hope Valley line between Manchester and Sheffield. Only really useful if you bring a bike on the train, or fancy a long walk here and back.
Car – parking is limited and we are keen to keep the overall environmental impact of the event to a minimum, so please car share so far as possible. Follow signs and instructions for parking areas. Designated areas have limited space, so you may need to find road side or on street parking – please park considerately remembering that residents need access to driveways and that the village main road is a bus route.
There is no parking at the school, and competitor or spectator vehicles are not allowed up the school lane from the main road through the village; please allow time to find parking and walk for up to ten minutes”.
But I did this race back in 2012 and it was a blast. Year on year it turns out to be one of everybody’s favourites. So what’s the deal…?
Well, look at this relief graph of the terrain/climb on the course:
Now factor in the weather, with plenty of rain until recently (perhaps not enough), we’ve ended up with news like this about the conditions out on the race route…
So parts of the course will be wet to say the least. And do recall that shortly after the first major hill, there’s a good downhill stretch through reeds and bog which will hardly bother one runner, but consume the next entirely if they don’t look where they’re going. All good fun. Type 2 fun* anyway.
Besides, it’s only £5 to enter on the day and no complicated online entry confusion. You race or you don’t, according to how you feel on the day and your ability to reach the start (arguably the hardest part).
In years gone by, there was always a free slice of flapjack for all participants, but I’m not entirely sure that they still follow that tradition, as the race has moved around a little and changed hands during the last 7 years. Still, one can hope…
Established in 2002, this is a real Fell Race, one for those who enjoy hills, but for a change, it starts with a brief downhill stretch, so you might just get into a rhythm before the hard work kicks in. Sure, there’s a lot of climb, but there are also road sections, single tracks, mud paths, trods, grassy meadows, farmers field, wooded sections, stiles, bog and wetland. It’s quite ‘featured’ you might say. There are some pretty little areas to ignore as your heart and lungs try to escape through your face, but the highlight always seems to be Race HQ, where people tend to congregate for a change, thanks to the fair weather and civilised start time of 11:00am.
Once the race has come to a close, most people are keen to hang around (waiting for that bus a mere 4 hrs later) to swap stories and battle scars.
While I raced in 2012, having just entered into the world of Fell Racing that year, I recall mistaking this for a much shorter course and believed that it was almost over at around 4 miles, only to glance up to the horizon and see a queue of runners far off in the distance. The eventual measurement appeared to be closer to 7 miles and I was ‘hanging’ by the end.
You’ll get wet. You’ll get muddy. You’ll get tired. You’ll grin from ear to ear. You’ll enjoy a very friendly atmosphere at Race HQ. You’ll likely avoid cycling to/from the event. You may get flapjack…
*Type 2 fun is when you enjoy looking back at what you just did, despite not necessarily enjoying it while it was happening. (Type 1 of course is just fun all the way. With Type 3 being no fun at all – ever).
Type 1 – Smiles
Type 2 – It’s gonna be worth it!
Supported as ever by inov-8 All Terrain Running and Accelerate.