Race Date 25.02.18
To the multitude of Striders who’ve run it in the past this race needs no introduction, but for the uninitiated it represents a fantastic mixture of both trail and fell running, asking competitors to draw on skills applicable to both types of terrain. There are just two climbs on the route, but that fact that the 10k course is made up of two 5k laps means that both climbs have to be navigated twice and so Strava typically picks up a total ascent of 650-700ft. If anyone is in any doubt about its credentials, it has formed part of the Striders’ fell race championships as recently as last year. There’s no mandatory kit requirement, although trail shoes are strongly recommended. The additional advantage that it’s free means that anyone thinking of trying their hand at this type of running has little to lose, unless you can’t bag one of the multitude of free parking spots outside Fox House or along the B6521 towards Grindleford. It’s a monthly event, normally the final Sunday, with the next race being on 25 March. It’s well marshaled and flagged throughout.
The race starts at 0900hrs, with registration in the Longshaw Lodge café. There’s a fast start from outside the house and downhill through the rhododendrons around the far side of the lake before a sharp left turn takes you towards the top side of Yarncliffe Wood. This is a tricky, technical section full of tree roots, rocks and often lots and lots of mud. The first and hardest climb then kicks in, approx 200ft over a distance of under half a mile, back up to the main path and after a short respite along a flat section there’s a 90 degree right turn and another 130ft of incline to a path which eventually levels out at the top of the estate. Views from here, over to Padley Gorge and Owler Tor, are spectacular and, in conjunction with the easier terrain, make recovery that little more pleasant after the exertions of the previous mile and a half. There’s then a left turn through a gate and a quick descent through a small woods to the finish line, at which point you do it all again (unless you advise a marshal that you’ve decided to take the 5k option at that point.)
Tea, coffee and cakes are all available back at the café and this month brought with it a little gift of a make-your-own birdfeeding kit to encourage birds into our gardens and remind us how fortunate we are to have this kind of scenery on our doorstep, managed by the lovely folk at the National Trust. Ruth Tweedie, who organises these races in conjunction with the Trust, is leaving Longshaw in April, so the March event (25.03.18) is likely to be her last. That feels like a good opportunity to swell the numbers with a few more green and gold shirts to help give her a good send-off.
Sunday’s event itself was unusually mud-free, as the cold weather had ensured that the ground was very firm underfoot with only the odd wet spot and two or three patches of ice with which to contend. Despite personally feeling like I was struggling throughout I managed to shave a few seconds off the best of my five previous attempts. I put this down to the removal, since I last ran it in November last year, of a small kissing gate a little over a mile into the first lap and not down to any particular improvement in my running ability!
177 runners took part. The race was won by Nick Taylor (unattached) in a time of 39:50:10. First lady was our own Frances Roberts in a time of 46:16:91. Eighteen Striders were in attendance, with Sam Needham leading the line in a time of 45:50:38. Well done all.
Further details, along with dates of the remaining races this year, here;
More photos from the day, with thanks to Nicole Nield;