Race: Mickleden Straddle Fell Race – 14.3miles
Date: Sunday 3 February 2019
This event is fast becoming a permanent fixture on my calendar. It has everything you want in fell race: a brilliant route, superb organisation, a bottle of beer at the finish and one of the best post-race spreads you’ll see. Not sure how sensible it was to run a load of track races the day before, however.
The course has a good mix of climbing and fast descents, some technical sections and a good stretch of trail along the reservoir in the middle to stretch your legs. Apart from a short section leading back up to the Cut Gate on the return half of the race, it is all run over clear paths, making it suitable for those with less experience of more challenging fell races. It would be great to see more Striders take it on.
On to the specifics. A week of freezing temperatures and precipitation meant there was plenty of ice and snow on the course. Discussion before the start mainly revolved around how many layers to wear and whether microspikes were advisable to counter the expected sheet ice on the paths. In the end, it was a lot more benign than feared. The temperature on the tops was a balmy zero degrees and the wind never got above breezy. Plenty of fresh snow meant ice was only a problem on the odd short stretch.
S, overall, conditions were fantastic and runners were rewarded for their efforts up the long climb from Langsett with stunning views over the Derwent Valley. Along the way I also spotted mountain hares, a bank vole (I think anyway, it was pretty speedy) and a number of large birds of prey floating in the skies above the runners.
Eight Striders ran and posted some good times. Well done to all.
The race was won by Chris Holdsworth (Ribble Valley Harriers) in 1:39:25. First lady home was Sarah Hodgson (Leeds City AC) in 2:04:36. There were 194 finishers. Full results on the Race Best website
Photo: Amy Duck on the climb up to the Cut Gate (photo courtesy of Woodhead Mountain Rescue)