Race date: Saturday 1 September, 2018
Race report by Matt Broadhead
The fell race is part of the three-day Longshaw Sheepdog Trials. It starts and finishes in the field where the trials take place and is a five-and-a-bit-mile loop of mostly trail. It’s well-marshalled (some of them must have quite a job getting to their stations!) and well-marked. It’s also hard! I hadn’t expected it to be quite as tough as it turned out to be. I knew nothing.
I turned up in time to see Mr Mellor and Lucky lose control of their sheep slightly. The sheep went scurrying towards a marquee, and Mr Mellor and Lucky retired. By the end I knew how they felt.
The race was quite different to the few other fell races I’ve done, which have mostly been more or less up-then-down. This one had a lot more undulation. It began with a mass downhill start across a field, before crossing the road and slogging up a rocky 100-m climb to Burbage South Edge. “This is pretty technical,” I thought. I knew nothing.
We were quickly plunged into a rock-to-rock downhill hurtle, almost to our starting elevation, followed by what was basically rock-climbing up Carl Wark (photo). “This had better not be a false summit,” I joked to the marshal as I approached the top. I knew nothing.
The track levelled out and I took a deep breath and looked around. Then I spotted a snakey line of coloured dots climbing something. It was Higger Tor, the highest point of the race, and more or less the half-way mark. Thankfully it was also the last big surprise. The rest of the race was largely downhill, with some alarmingly (for me) technical descents, during one of which I slid off a rock onto my backside. There was a sneaky little kicker at Over Owler Tor, and then the finish, which was just mean. Across Burbage Brook past all the picknickers, then a quarter-mile slog across a grassy field with about 40m of ascent, where the runner I’d been trying to beat hurtled past me and over the line.
After a group photo with some other sweaty Striders, I headed for the catering tent. I had learned things. I’d definitely have another crack at this. It’s a lovely event and a really challenging (for me) course.
176 runners finished, of whom six were listed as Striders (some of whom must logically be in the photo). The winner was Ben Rothery of Dark Peak in 37:14. First female was Kate Davies (unattached) in 48:24. Strider Paul Smith was first finisher in the M50 category.
Full results: https://www.dpfr.org.uk/results/view/5030