Race date: Saturday 31 August 2019
Distance: 5.3 miles
Longshaw Sheepdog Trials Fell race is the final race in the Accelerate Gritstone series. With a new route as of last year, the race takes in climbs onto Burbage edge, Carl Wark, Higgar Tor, Mother Cap, and finally back into Longshaw. With over 300 metres of ascent it is tougher than it looks for those that know the area with some fantastic technical descents, and rocky climbs. It was perfect weather for the race, and a small contingent of Striders turned up to escape the sheep paddock and be rounded up back into the sheep pen looking a little haggard and more worse for wear.
Race Report by Laura Rangeley:
My first ever fell race.
It was not a triumphant debut.
In hindsight, it was probably a bad idea to launch myself into fell running via a nearly 9k route up hills I’ve moaned about walking up in the past. But hey, I was feeling in good fitness, loving running more than ever, and the race date itself fell on the final day of a five-month cumulative distance challenge I’d being doing to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease, so it seemed like a great finale.
We arrived at the sheepdog trials on a sunny but windy morn an hour early, in time to watch a dog call Polly take her sheep on a frantic run away from the hills. Perhaps I should have followed them.
As 10.30 arrived, I took my starting position near the back of the pack, and it was there I very much stayed. Up Burbage (steep), across the top (beautiful), some flailing frantically through ferns (fun), before two big climbs up Carl Wark and Higger Tor. It was at this point, as I contemplated what to do, where I realised that my five foot one stature with stumpy legs was a total disadvantage when it comes to clambering up massive rocks. Luckily I was with a springy friend who was kind enough to give me the occasional shove.
It was single file climbing at that point and up to this stage in the race we were in with a chance of finishing it in a similar time to a substantial number of other runners. Until about half way up, when I took a slightly different route to the top, only to find that we’d completely lost everyone and had no idea which way to go. Thankfully after a little bit of scoping out at the top, we heard a marshall whistling to us (remarkably like the farmers trying to get their dogs back, come to think of it) and managed to get back on track, albeit a fair way behind the majority of the field.
From the top of Higger Tor, most of the rest of the race was downhill, a couple of smaller kickers excluded. Finding a comfortable pace on a wide, flat, gently descending track, I promptly fell over. It was pretty spectacular too, I was only saved from being winded by my bumbag which my sister likes to mock for wearing. At least now I know why it’s called a fell race?!
The last 2.5k was a bit of a hobble, and I’m sure I heard “just one more hill” from approximately 17 different marshalls. Nevertheless, I made it to the end in not-quite-last place, and despite the trials and tribulations I’d found on the way round I realised I hadn’t stopped smiling, even with my dusty knees and bleeding palms.
Overall, good fun (I promise), cheap (a fiver gets you into the Longshaw Sheepdog Trials for the day, and then the race itself is free), well organised with very friendly marshals, and a great challenge. I *might* just be tempted to have another go next year…!
The race was won in 36.38 by Nathan Lawson of Dark Peak, who broke the course record and finished just one second ahead of his fellow club member Ben Rothery in what I hear was a spectacular sprint finish up the tussocky field. I’m in absolute awe. First lady was Sally Fawcett who finished in 46.19, also of Dark Peak. There were 259 finishers in total, including seven Striders.
Full results available here: https://www.dpfr.org.uk/results/view/5399