Kinder Downfall fell race 2022

Race date: Sunday 17 April 2022

Race report: Louis Wood

Almost exactly 90 years ago, in April 1932, several hundred walkers climbed to the Kinder Plateau from the village of Hayfield in what came to be known as the Kinder Trespass. The walkers battled gamekeepers on the ascent as they fought for access to land that was then only open to a select few. Arguments still run over the legacy of the event, but it is widely credited with precipitating the creation of the National Parks (of which the Peak District was the first in 1951) and the Countryside Rights of Way (CRoW) Act of 2000.

Fell runners are beneficiaries of this legislation, and so it was fitting that in another anniversary year (Striders’ 40th), we began the 2022 Fell Race Championship with a race that honours the event.

The race itself starts and finishes near the cricket club (and pub) in Hayfield. It is around 9.6 miles and involves approx. 600m of ascent, pretty much all in the first 3 miles. Runners start on the main road, climb out of the village past a plaque commemorating the Trespass and out on to Middle Moor.

Everyone set off as if pursued by foxhounds, but the excitement of the initial road climb soon gave way to the traditional fell running sounds of scrunching shoes and laboured ragged breathing. A few fields later, the first lung busting climb was over and the route descended to Benny’s Bridge (named after one the Trespass leaders, Benny Rothman, who was jailed for his involvement) and the main climb of the day began.

It is a rocky, damp slog up William Clough, even on a hot day following dry weather as it was this year. Upon reaching Ashop Head, aching legs are given no respite as the super steep steps leading to edge of the Kinder plateau follow almost immediately afterwards. It was properly hot by now, as the red sweaty faces in the race photos attest, and the field was suddenly well spaced. From the relatively bunching in the Clough, it was now easy to lose sight of the runner ahead.

On paper, this part of the race should have been easier, relatively flat after the brutal climb. But the large uneven boulders and undulating path that leads southeast to the waterfall that gives the race its name, stole both energy and momentum. I’ve run along this path towards the end of the Trigger race, but somehow it felt much harder after 45 minutes in the sun than after 4 hours in the sleet and mist.

At this point I’d worked my way up to about twelfth place, but then my legs reminded me I’d run Manchester Marathon just a fortnight before and, from the Downfall onwards, I started to drop places, a trickle a first and finally a flood.

It’s another mile and a half from the waterfall to Kinder Low before the decent proper begins, initially along flagstones and then the rocky path from Edale Cross. Runners were catching me and flying off ahead by now as I stumbled and picked my way gingerly down. The last mile through the fields should be a glorious freefall before the last mile along the road and paths to the finish, but I was lethargic and unable to respond to the runners flowing past me in final hundred metres.

The race finishes in the playground next to the cricket club and alongside a shaded cooling stream. A fair number of runners choose to soak their aching feet and limbs in the brook before retiring to the local pub for a well earned pint or two.

9 Striders finished the race and particular mention must go to Caroline Brock who won the women’s race despite having run a sub-3hr marathon just two weeks earlier.

The race was won by Steve Vernon (Stockport Harriers) in 1:06:33. First woman was Caroline Brock (Steel City Striders) in 1:29:15.

Full results on the Hayfield Fell races website

Striders results:

Pos Name Cat Time
28 Louis Wood M40 01:23:00
46 Paul Middlemas M40 01:28:02
52 Caroline Brock F 01:29:15
65 Neil Schofield M50 01:33:17
120 Alison Barrett F40 01:43:44
134 Jennie Stevens F40 01:45:36
154 Lee Mills M40 01:49:49
156 Mark A Platton M50 01:49:53
157 Neal Pates M50 01:50:20


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