Race date: Sunday 21st July 2019
Report by Alex Sheppard
The Holme Moss Fell Race is based at Cartworth Moor Cricket Club and starts off gently along a relatively smooth gravel road but that’s where the easy stuff ends. As soon as it turns off the track, the route plummets down what feels like a near-vertical grass slope – all good fun until you realise the first bit of the course is repeated in the other direction to get back to the finish line.
At this point you realise the course follows the usual Peak District tradition – if you’re not going either uphill or downhill it means you’ve fallen over and stopped. But this course seems a bit more extreme than most – after checkpoint 4 there were warnings to take the steep descent a little carefully at the end to avoid going over the cliffs at the bottom. What they didn’t say was that after this particular bit of fun, the next uphill also involved a cliff.
As we ascended, we went past a group of climbers in full gear doing a route that was only just to one side of ours. To say it was steep was a bit of an understatement! Never mind – a fell race isn’t fun unless you have to resort to hands-and-knees crawling for a bit. Thankfully, a kind soul(?!) was camped out at the very top of the climb with a camera to capture the moment forever. It was also where the Mountain Rescue seemed to have decided it was a good place to wait to see if any injuries occurred. At least they weren’t waiting at the bottom of the cliff – I suppose that would have been even more disconcerting!
There then followed a relatively flattish section along the Trans-Pennine Trail which only served to highlight (in my case, at least) how quickly my legs were rapidly tiring. The route then turns across a peat bog for about a mile which saps most of your remaining strength – varying between firm underfoot and calf-deep quagmire at almost every step.
It’s now that you remember that near-vertical downhill which, of course, was now a steep 400ft climb at mile 16! Thankfully, the last mile was the gently downhill track back to the cricket ground.
All in all, the course was 18 miles and 3,800ft of climbing fun – brilliantly organised and very well run. Best of all, the array of cakes and sandwiches available at the end was mind-boggling. Worth slogging it round just for the brownies, flapjack and tea.
Strangely for an event relatively close to Sheffield, I was the only Strider, finishing in 3h36m. First chap was Andrew Worster from Todmorden Harriers in 2hr40m and first female was Helen Berry from Holmfirth Harriers in 2hr58m.
More information about the race can be found here