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Gritstone Fixtures: Round Six – Salt Cellar Fell Race

 

Another day, another fell race….

And another incredible fixture in the 2019 Gritstone Series – supported once again by inov-8 All Terrain Running!

Without further ado…

Salt Cellar Fell Race:

 

 

Official stats:

Round 6 (Short): Salt Cellar Fell Race, Friday 2nd August, 7:00pm
Start under Dam at north end of Ladybower Reservoir, register at Fairholmes, GR SK 173893
Distance: 10.9km / 6.8m
Climb: 486m / 1594ft
£6 pre entry https://www.webscorer.com/register?raceid=118232 or £9 on day
Records: Tom Saville (2015) – 49:34 and Judith Jepson (2013) – 62:08
Race Organisers: www.steelcitystriders.co.uk
Proceeds to Edale Mountain Rescue

 

The course:

  • LK – Local Knowledge an advantage
  • PM – Course Partially Marked

Map –

and that relief map (it’ll be a relief when it’s over, chuckle chuckle) –

Doesn’t look too bad, but that’s a 300 meter climb (Hollin Clough to Bradfield Gate) inside the first 4km!  Straight back down (which will be over all too quickly), then it’s another 150 meters up, for a short (sharp) descent.  And that sharp section toward the end, grassy, with a view of the final section dead ahead – begging for you to cut straight across to the finish…. well, on a wet day, can be a slip ‘n’ slide.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The History:

Sheffield running club, Steel City Striders introduced this off-road event in 2012.  It took until 2014 for the course to reveal its true potential, as this was the first year in which the race took place in wet weather conditions.  While accessible from the picturesque Fairholmes visitor centre/car park, the route takes people up and over the Derwent Edge and past the ‘Salt Cellar’ rock formation, so named because of its distinct shape.

Race records have come and gone, with many runners establishing great times, looking hard to beat in fact….  but the wet weather provides a very difficult course to master.  Occasional dry weather can occur, particularly at this time of year – and if you’re the right calibre with the right conditions under foot….

Tom Saville of Dark Peak Fell Runners currently holds the men’s record (2015) – 49:34.  He managed that during a dry spell, the ground a lot firmer and more responsive, less likely to lose traction or take a fall.  Judith Jepson, also of Dark Peak (2013) – 62:08 is a record which was again established in dry conditions, before the race had ever been attempted in the wet, before the course had revealed its hidden horrors.

With this year providing some of the driest conditions on record, with record temperatures in fact, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of performance can be mustered by the fell running elite, given that we’ve tipped into overwhelming heat, threatening to hamper even the swiftest runner’s progress across such hilly terrain.  Keep ’em peeled come August 2nd for what might be a new course record, or just some very sweaty looking race pics for all concerned….

Should you enter….?

The basic fact is, that for a race with very little entry criteria – good light, warm weather, easy access, low cost (£6 pre-entry/£9 on the day), this one features tough climbs, not for the faint hearted and those descents, which will be hard earned and tempting at top speed, but which have and will provide a few slips, trips and tumbles for anyone not entirely on their game.  And that’s in the dry.

If you’re a keen runner, fell enthusiast, or you love a challenge, then yeah – have a go.

There’s promise of post finish cake for all who take part.  Something of a tradition and more reason to be enormously grateful to the many marshalls and organisers for the effort they put into this race.

 

Proceeds go to Edale Mountain Rescue, who coincidentally host their own event, the Nine Edges Endurance race (20miles) every year, from the same start location and what a worthy bunch they are.  If like us, you enjoy the beauty of the Peak National Park and frequent the Derwent/Edale area on a regular basis, they’re invaluable, so please do support them if you can.

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